Well folks, the holiday season is upon us and so time for celebrating with some bubbles. Now, I need to disclose what may be an unpopular opinion: I don't love Sparklers. I prefer the complexity and depth that red wines and some whites (e.g., Rieslings) can. I’m a wine geek! What’d you expect? And at last night's tasting, somewhere around Sparkler #7 I began experiencing palate fatigue and all of the sparklers started tasting fairly similar to one another, besides the occasional very sweet (e.g., Asti Spumante), the sparkling Shiraz, or the Veuve Clicquot Rich that was poured over slices of red and green bell pepper (yes, you read that right).
Now I will say that I do appreciate a good Sparkler. A good sparkler in my opinion has structure and successful integration of the relevant elements like alcohol, sweetness, secondary and tertiary qualities, etc., which makes for a seamless transition from beginning to finish on the palate. These are the 2 sparklers that I found most appealing. Both of these Sparklers showed excellent structure and balance.
Sparkler #1: NV Le Mesnil Sublime Rose (Cotes de Blanc,Sur Oger, Champagne, France): mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this Champagne is rare in that it is one of only six cooperative producers in Champagne. Note that this bottle retails for $48.
Tasting Note: austere nose, chalk up front on the palate, bone dry, very little fruit, excellent structure, very fine bubbles, long finish.
My Rating: 91.
Sparkler #2: 2011 Argyle Brut (Willamette, Oregon): 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay. From a cool-climate in a very cool vintage.
Tasting Note: some sweetness and very small amount of oak, overall great structure and integration of the elements, good finish, fine bubbles.
Rating: 90. This retails for $23 at Market Square Liquors.
Champagnes—the elite of the Sparkler category—tend to be over-priced and I pride myself as someone who values a wine with a good QPR (i.e., quality to price ratio). If you agree you might want to check out a couple of solid value Proseccos or Cavas sold almost anywhere around town, e.g., Segura Viudas Cava, Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava, or La Marca Prosecco.
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