Happy New Year! Happy Birthday! Happy Anniversary!
Happy and sparkling wine seem to go together quite often. Who can argue with bubbles in a glass? I was very excited to hear that the Regional Theme for this year at the Vancouver International Wine Festival was “bubbles”. Of course Champagne first jumped to my mind, but also all the other variations of sparkling wines like Cremant, Prosecco, and Cava also bubbled up too. For most of us, Champagne is the pinnacle of sparkling wines. The sparkle is made in each bottle via the Methode Champenoise for Champagne, and is very time consuming. Each Champagne house has it’s own house style, with their characteristic flavours and aromas, and people each have their favourite, whether it is Bollinger, Taittinger or others. The lineup of Champagnes to try at the Festival was very impressive and had long line ups as you would expect. Some labels were new to me and others were old friends.
So here are cheers to friends new and old. Below are some of my favourite Champagne’s from the Festival.
- Champagne Barons de Rothschild Blanc de Blancs N/V – The grapes for this Champagne only come from Grand Cru vineyards. It is a blend of 3 vintages; 2008 primarily along with 2007 and 2006. Only 50,000 bottles were produced. It has a very light citrus nose. On the palate it is quite biscuity, along with lots of mouth filling bubbles. Sour/crisp apple leads to a sweeter apple flavour. Dry on the palate with only 6g/l of dosage. An excellent Champagne!
- Champagne Barons de Rothschild Brut N/V – This Champagne is produced from 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir grapes. Primarily wine from the 2008 vintage, blended with wines from 2007 and 2006. Toasty nose. Dry with a very fine bubble on the palate. Oak/toast up front followed by apple on the mid palate. Understated elegance.
- Champagne Barons de Rothschild Rose N/V – Woody, strawberry nose. Dry with bright citrus, red apple and strawberry flavours. Medium minus bubble. Long mouth watering citrus finish.
- Champagne H. Blin Blanc de Blancs N/V – Lightly toasty with a green edge on the nose. Dry with acidity and a very aggressive bubble. Crab apple on the palate.
- Charles de Cazanove Chateau de Bligny Blanc de Blancs N/V – Light citrus and oak on the nose. Dry with lots of medium sized bubble. Light body with red apple flavours. Nice.
- Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose N/V – Strawberries on the nose. Light body with fine tiny bubbles. Not overly acidic. Strawberries leading to apples on the finish.
- Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle N/V – The interesting thing about this Champagne is that it has no dosage, but the fruitiness of the wine does not make it seem harsh. Light bready nose. High acid and medium bubble. Dry, with citrus and citrus rind on the palate.
- Nicolas Feuillatte Grand Cru Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs 2005 – Very aromatic with ripe apples. Lightly body with very fine bubble. Ripe bruised apple flavours. A soft, feminine wine.
- Nicolas Feuillatte Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs 2004 – Light stone fruit aromas in the glass. Medium minus body, dry but very fruity. Red fruits and apples on the palate along with a mineral streak. Wonderful.
- Champagne Taittinger Prestige Rose N/V – 85% of the Pinot Noir fruit for this Champagne is vinified as white wine and to this is added the other 15% that has been vinified as red wine. Light strawberry nose. Light body with very fine bubble. Interesting flavour combining strawberries and cherries. Dry. Very elegant.
- Thienot Vintage 2005 – Only in the very best years, Thienot releases a “Brut Vintage” Champagne, which is a 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Light citrus, honey and nuttiness on the nose. Dry with light tiny bubbles on the palate. Apple and oak flavours with a mouth watering finish. Very nice. FYI, the Champagnes of Thienot are also known for being served at the Oscars.
As I reviewed the wines I selected, I noticed that I do tend toward the Blanc de Blancs, or 100% Chardonnay wines. Chardonnay tends to produce smaller, finer bubbles than the Pinot Noir and Meunier grapes. My overall favourite Champagne house from the wines tried during the Festival was the Champagne Barons de Rothschild. All of their Champagnes were well done and very elegant.
Not all that sparkles is Champagne. An alternative sparkling wine, and one that comes with a more wallet friendly price, is Cremant. Cremant, which means “creamy” in French, is a term used for sparkling wine produced in France, outside of the Champagne region. In my favourite wines below, I have cremants from Alsace and from Burgundy, but there are also other regions, such as the Loire Valley. Cremants are also produced with the Methode Champenoise, but vary in the grapes that are used. In Champagne, the producers may only use Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and/or Pinot Meunier grapes. In the other regions, typically the local grape(s) are used, which could be Chenin Blanc, Riesling, etc., along with the traditional Champagne grapes.
- Pfaffenheim Cremant Rose N/V – Light strawberry nose. Tasty citrus and strawberry flavours with some minerality too. Crisp apple follows later. Dry with a fine bubble. An Alsatian bubble.
- Maison Louis Latour Cremant de Bourgogne Brut – Sorry I did not get the vintage or if this is a non-vintage bubble. Light citrus aromas in the glass. Bright citrus, melon and stone fruit flavours. Light body with some sweet spices. Off-dry. A fun wine!
- Cave de Lugny Cremant de Bourgogne Cuvee Millesimee 2010 – Light bready and citrus aromas. Dry, with small, fine bubbles. Citrus and minerality on the palate. Mouth watering finish. Very good.
- Cave de Lugny Cremant de Bourgogne Rose N/V – Crisp red apple nose. Light body with light cherry and red apple flavours. Medium bubble. Nice lingering apple finish.
- Boisset Family Estates Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Rose Perle d’Aurore N/V – Light red fruit aromas. Light body with aggressive, yet creamy bubble. Light cherries and lemon flavours. Very tasty.
Cave de Lugny was one of the surprise winery finds for me at the Wine Festival. All their sparkling wines were very enjoyable and priced well. I can highly recommend their wines. You can purchase them through Liberty and other private wine shops in BC.
I hope you have a chance to try some of these sparkling wines with family and friends, and spread the happiness.