Tag Archives: Champagne

Jen’s 2013 Sparkling Review

Champagne: the mere mention of it evokes an exuberant feeling of excitement and happiness as bubbly memories flood the mind. Laughter, love and new beginnings are all associated with the shimmering drink. New Year’s Eve is fast approaching–a time to toast the year past and drink to what’s ahead. Whatever your budget, Nino’s has the bubbly for you!

JP Chenet Brut $9.99 

I have sung the praises of the JP Chenet Rosè, but I like the Brut just the same. Fresh and flavorful, with pear and apple, it is a great pick for toasting and mimosas.

Chandon Brut $14.99 

Every time I sip the Chandon Brut, I am transported to the sunny spring day I spent at the winery. Featuring green apple, citrus and spice, the finish is refreshing and bright. This bubbly way over-delivers.

Nicolas Feuillatte $32.99 

Citrus and white flowers on the nose, with a pretty golden hue and a steady stream of bubbles, the Nicolas Feuilliatte is full and rich with candied citrus and bready notes. The bubbles create a creamy texture with a long, crisp finish.

Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame $149.99 

This Champagne is luxe, with white tree fruits on the nose and hints of candied lemon peel and nougat. Bright citrus and crystalized ginger are on the front, but as it evolves, notes of warm puff pastry and Sorrento lemons come forth with the powerful and weighty mid-palate. A rich, creamy mouse dissolves into a long, lean finish with chalky minerality and tart citrus. It’s elegant and complex, much like the Widow herself.

Bubbles are my favorite to drink. Holding the wine in my mouth as the bubbles burst brings me the kind of joy I had as a kid with Pop Rocks. In the New Year, I hope to taste many, many more fizzy wines, and with each one, I will toast to all the things I am thankful for.

Which is your favorite Champagne or sparkling wine? Tweet me at @NinosWineExpert!

– Jennifer Laurie

2012 Sparkling Wine Review

I am a very lucky girl. I know this. My job allows me to travel the world and taste amazing wines. As the year comes to a close, I remember getting an actual pearl in an oyster I had New Year’s Eve last year. I knew then that 2012 would be an amazing year. It did not let me down. In April, my husband and I toured and tasted at the Chandon Winery in California. In June, while I waited for the bus at Oregon Pinot Camp, I was given mimosas made with Argyle Sparkling Brut. Last week, I was able to sit down with Master Sommelier and Krug Champagne Ambassador Ian Cauble to taste some of the world’s most sought-after Champagnes. From beginning to end, my year was full of bubbles. So here are the Sparkling wines that really stood out:

Domaine Chandon Etoile Brut NV, California –

Etoile means star in French, and this definitely lives up to its moniker. Notes of ginger, lemon curd, and spice abound, making it terrific for foods like salmon, sushi, or Thai.

Argyle NV Brut –

While in Oregon this summer, I tasted a few different sparkling wines, but the overall king was Argyle. Biscotti, apple, and pear are found on the nose, with bright, lively bubbles of honey, almond, and baked apple on the palate. Enjoy this with classic appetizers like baked brie and smoked salmon or with a dessert like Nino’s delicious cinnamon raisin bread pudding.

Lanson NV Brut Rose –

Lanson has been served by presidents and royalty for centuries. In fact, Lanson has held a Royal Warrant from the Royal Family since 1859. So when I had the chance to taste the Brut and Brut Rose about three months ago, I was very curious. I figured that if the Queen drinks it, it has to be good, right? Right. I was wowed. The Rose had a beautiful bouquet of rose hips and apple blossom, with black cherry, red and black raspberry, Christmas spices, and cake on the palate. Be like the Queen and have this stunning Rose with berry tarts, crumpets, and clotted cream.

Krug Grand Cuvee NV –

Me and Natasha with Ian Cauble, Master Sommelier and Krug Champagne Ambassador

I’ve blogged about my affinity for the Krug Champagne House. I simply love it. As I listened to Mr. Cauble last week over lunch, I could tell he loved it too. I learned a lot about the care that goes into every bottle of Krug. For instance, every bottle of Krug is aged in used French oak barrels so that the flavor of the delicate grapes is not overshadowed by the oak of the barrel. Every bottle of Non-Vintage Brut has up to 20 years worth of production put into it. The blend can be a cépage of wines that date back 15 years if the cellar master feels it is right. The bubbles in the particular glass I tasted produce a steady fine steam, and on the nose, I got brioche, ripe pear, and roasted almond. The bubbles formed a creamy mousse, and the flavors of fresh-cut lemon, marzipan, and candied citrus flourished. Refreshing, with acidity that leaves you wanting more, this Champagne is perfect for lobster with drawn butter, along with caviar, or even as an aperitif.

Well, I hope 2013 is even better–for us all–than 2012 was. I can’t think of a better way to ring in the New Year than by raising a glass of delicious Champagne and toasting to not only the future but also the past.


Jennifer Laurie

Champagne: 2010 ‘Sparkling’ Review

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… Continue reading

Champagne Review: Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to a Veuve Clicquot luncheon.  Being the “bubble head” that I am, I jumped at the chance to try through this prestigious collection.  The luncheon, designed to showcase Champagne’s ability to be a versatile and fun wine, took place at famed and uber-delicious Ocean Prime.

As we entered the dining room, we were given a glass of the Non Vintage Brut.  To be quite honest, I often try to sway my customers away from the mass market appeal of the better known mid-range bottles.  Since there are so many unique Champagnes out there, why stick with just one?

Where Clicqout is concerned, the answer is consistency, heritage, and reputation. This tasting reminded me that craftsmanship and quality are the reasons Veuve have become the world’s most recognizable Champagne.  Does the construction-cone-orange label help? Sure, but year after year, it’s the balance of fruit and acidity that makes Veuve Clicquot my top seller.

Tasting Notes

Veuve Clicquot NV Brut “Yellow Label” – The flagship Champagne of the collection, I found the yellow label to be more full bodied than I remembered.  Ripe tree fruits like pear and apple are apparent on the nose and palate with medium acidity on the finish.  The appetizer of Asian Calamari, Crab Cakes and Goat Cheese Ravioli complimented the Champagne very well.  The fruit cooled the spicy Calamari, while the acidity cut through the creamy quality of the Crab Cakes and Goat Cheese.


Limited Release Sakura Collection

Veuve Clicquot NV Rose – Pretty pink/peach in color, the Non Vintage Rose expresses soft round strawberry and raspberry.  This blend includes 50-55% Pinot Noir giving it the berry flavors, 15-20% Pinot Meunier for structure and color, and 28-33% Chardonnay for the biscuity, supple finish.  Ocean Prime paired this with She Crab Bisque with a Crab Fritter.

Veuve Clicquot Vintage 2002 Rose – Beautifully bright salmon in color, with a nose that expresses rose hips and wild strawberries.  The 2002 vintage was ideal with low rainfall resulting in little more fruit and intensity in flavor.  Full bodied with a long finish this Champagne was paired with the She Crab Bisque as well, but held up to the next course of Surf and Turf.

Veuve Clicquot Vintage 2002 Brut – Featuring toast and ripe pear on the nose, complemented by a palate consisting of baked pears and apple pie, with nice creamy bubbles and medium acidity, this golden Champagne was my favorite of the luncheon!  Just a hint of lemon curd lingered on the finish. Ocean Prime paired it with Pan Seared Scallops in a Mustard Cream Sauce and Fillet Mignon in a Peppercorn Sauce with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Asparagus.

La Grande Dame 1998 – Toasty, with ripe baked apple, candied citrus rind, and almond on the nose and palate, boasting a hint of minerality to round out the finish. The acidity of the La Grande Dame was more bracing than the Vintage Brut, adding to its complexity.  This Champagne had the structure and acidity to stand up to the Fillet Mignon.  With nearly two-thirds of the La Grande Dame being Pinot Noir, the aging ability is extensive.  I have enjoyed the 1989 Vintage of La Grande Dame and suggest that the bottle aging calms the acidity and produces a rounder flavor.

Vueve Clicquot NV Demi Sec – Lightly golden to the eye, this demi sec has a nice amount of candied fruits and brioche on the nose.  I have always liked this particular sweet Champagne because the acidity is high enough to make the wine well balanced.  Ocean Prime finished the lunch by pairing this sparkler with Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake.

So next time you are thinking about what wine to pair with dinner, instead of thinking red or white, why not try bubbles?


Jennifer Laurie