Champagne: 2010 ‘Sparkling’ Review

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Just like most people, my first sip of bubbly was Tosti Asti, most likely at a New Years Eve party, and I thought, hmm… well that’s fun!

As the years went on, and my passion for wine and all things bubbly grew, I was introduced to the Champagne houses of Veuve Cliquot, Philipponnant, Roederer, and finally, the one that ruined me – Krug. I’m now known as what we in the industry call a “Bubble Head” – a person devoted to all things bubbly. Whatever the occasion, special or not, Champagne (or a good sparkling wine) is the perfect libation.

Of course, this brings me to one of my most frequently asked questions – “What is the difference between Champagne and Sparkling wine?”

The simple answer is… regions. When you say “I want a Sparkling wine,” it’s like saying “I’m American.” When you say “I want Champagne,” it’s like saying “I’m from Michigan.” Champagne is a region in France, and all true Champagnes originate there. Sparkling wine can be made anywhere in the world.

To most people, the word “Champagne” has become synonymous with sparkling wine. However, when we want something to use as a mix, or to share with a large crowd, a true Champagne may not be the best choice. With its long history and complex wine production, Champagne can command a lot of coin.

That’s not to say I’m a Champagne snob. In recent years, the up cropping of good quality Prosecco, Cava, and even Michigan sparkling wines have kept my palate busy and happy. At Nino’s we strive to stock many high-quality Sparkling Wines for the Holiday.

Among those I recommend are….

Mimosa Mixers – These bubbles are good enough to drink on their own, but affordable enough to make festive cocktails with!

Segura Viudas NV Brut Cava $7.99 – My personal favorite for the value set. Round, toasty, and citrusy with a crisp clean finish.

Kila NV Brut Cava $7.99 – Soft, with hints of lime zest, a touch sweet red apple in the mid-palate, and refreshing finish.

Tosti Asti $8.99 – If you have a sweet tooth, this classic sparkler is the one for you. Sweet and light, Tosti is good mixed with orange juice to make Mimosas!

Sparkling Personality – To me, nothing is nicer than being greeted with a glass of bubbly. Here are some approachable sparkling wines with character and mass appeal.

Baby NV Brut Prosecco $12.99 – Prosecco is a sparkling wine from Italy that has become a huge hit! This new party must –have is light and fruity with hints of green apple. To add a festive appearance, drop in about ten Pomegranate seeds and watch how they bounce as you sip!

M. Lawrence Detroit Demi Sec $14.99 – Soft and fruity, Detroit is a sweet treat made from Riesling, Traminette, Vidal, and Muscat. The bubbles on this Michigan made sparkler are small and the finish is zippy!

JENNIFER’S PICK!

Gruet NV Brut Regular Price $16.99 Holiday Special $14.99 – When someone says to me “Hey, try this wine from New Mexico, it’s great!” I get the creeping suspicion that they are trying to trick me. But, like I said before, I am a fool for bubbles. So, I tried this New Mexican sparkling wine and WOW.

Bright green apple flavors, round, creamy mouth-feel from tiny bubbles, and a snappy finish! The Gruet Family had been making Champagne in France since 1952 and in 1983, while on a vacation to the U.S., the family found that the soil types and weather in New Mexico were ideal for making sparkling wines most similar to Champagne. They decided to capitalize on this and we’re all better off for it!

Mumm Napa Rose Regular Price $19.99 MPS $14.99 – As the light Magenta wine pours into the glass, a light pink mousse forms, and the aroma of strawberry lingers in the air. Voluptuous, ripe strawberry, cherry and pomegranate on the palate, with a creamy, soft finish.

Star Sippers – The legend of Dom Perignon states that when he first sipped his now famous Champagne, he said it was like tasting the stars. Here are a couple Champagnes that have sent me over the moon!

Duval-Leroy NV Brut $39.99 – Richly Golden in color, the Duval-Leroy Brut is vibrant with hints of honeyed lemon and almond. With tons of lively acidity, if you like dry Champagne, this is the one for you!

Nicolas Feuillatte NV Brut $42.99 – The toasty, nutty aromas of the Nicolas Feuillatte compliment the scents and smells of the holiday season. Caramelized figs and almonds round out the finish on this full bodied wine. Pair this Champagne with Brie coated with Fig fruit spread for a perfect match!

Ruinart Blanc de Blanc $74.99 – The lightest of all of my picks, the Ruinart is a Blanc de Blanc, which means it is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes. It is elegant and ethereal, with notes of candied citrus and ripe Comice pears. Delicate but structured, the finish has a hint of vanilla.

Krug NV Brut Grand Cuvee $184.99 – Wander into the Nino Salvaggio’s bakery and you’re hit with the sweet smells of baking sugar cookies and fresh bread. This is the best way to describe the nose on Krug. This powerhouse of a Champagne is layered with smoke, honey, candied fruits and Brioche. Creamy bubbles disappear, leaving a fresh, lively finish. Worth every penny!

Champagne and Sparkling wines are great gifts for the holidays, but these wines are a terrific alternative for your favorite Tuesday night pizza wine too. Fun and festive, it doesn’t have to be an anniversary or a wedding to open up a bottle! If you are curious about my feelings on Veuve Clicquot, please see my previous post “Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin.”

I hope this little jaunt through the world of bubbles have left you excited to pop open a bottle tonight!

Enjoy!