Champagne, Bubbles and More!

by Abi

There something about cracking open a bottle of bubbles, especially when there is nothing the celebrate. Sparkling wine has this connotation that it is only a celebratory drink, which was created during the Belle Epoque, a celebration era in France between the years of 1871 (end of franco-prussian war) to 1914 (the beginning of World War One). Yet, sparkling wine has been around for centuries and has always been enjoyed just like red or white wine. So why do we still feel like Champagne or Cava are only to be enjoyed during celebration? This tasting was the focus on the beauty of sparkling wine, the diversity and elegance of it and to promote the fact that it can be enjoyed any day of the week.

Here’s what we sampled this evening:

CVNE, Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (the Northern Spanish Wine Company), was founded in 1879 in Haro, a small town in Northern Spain which many refer to as the beating heart of Rioja. This Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) made from a blend of grapes (Macabeo, Xarel Lo, Parellada) is terrific value coming from such a prestigious winery. Fresh and young, it shows a wonderful fruity bouquet with slight hints of yeast. Very fresh in mouth with a light sweetness that adds to its deliciousness; strong and consistent. Try as an aperitif and to accompany fish and seafood, pasta and rice dishes. $21.99

Costadila Bianco Col Fondo 2017
Costadilá is one of a handful of producers in the Prosecco region that are redefining the way we think about Prosecco. These producers have re-ignited the completely natural and ancient way of making Prosecco called Methode Ancestrale. The resulting wines are called Prosecco ‘Col Fondo’ because they are shipped un-disgorged ‘with sediment’. This helps the wine remain stable without the addition of any sulphur,” according to the importer. “This wine is not disgorged and the lees remains in the bottle. There is no dosage. This Methode Ancestral process produces wines with a light naturally produced frizzante and an enjoyable 11% alcohol. This is the perfect holiday celebration bubbly….Think peaches, baked bread and grapefruit pith with a fine bubble. $29.99

Schlossgut Ebringen Pinot Noir Brut NV
Schlossgut Ebringen is a small scale production coming from Baden in Southern Germany, where they focus on organic, sustainable and terroir-driven wines. This traditional method sparkling Pinot Noir Rose is made from the grapes grown on the cooler vineyards, allowing for an elegant acidity to show through the wine. It is outrageously complex, with notes of red berries, fine yeast and that beautiful minerality that Schlossgut is famous for. $44.99

Bride Valley Brut NV
Bubbles from England, one of the world’s up-and-coming wine regions. If you haven’t tried a bottle yet, track this down so you can see what all the fuss is about. After 50 years in the wine trade, critic/writer Steven Spurrier and his partner Annabelle decided to make wine. In England. This crisp sparkling wine is dry and delicious, with notes of flowers and toast. Pair with oysters or sushi, or just enjoy by itself as an expressive, unusual Champagne-style sparkling wine. A blend of Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay and a bit of Pinot Noir. $50.99

Champagne Laherte Frères Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs NV
Laherte Freres is a grower-producer located in the Cote de Blanc, Champagne, as becoming one of the top figured for micro-producers in the region. The production is moving towards more transparency of its wine, using natural yeast, little to no sulphites, but also maintaining minimal intervention in the cellar and in the vineyard. Laherte Blanc de Blancs is made from their best parcels of Chardonnay (located on the south slopes of Epernay and the Côte des Blancs). This wine is very representative of the purity and the minerality of Chardonnay. $74.99

Vouette et Sorbée Blanc d’Argile NV
Bertrand Gautherot used to simply sell his grapes to other Champagne producers, but it wasn’t until his good friend, Anselme Selosse, demand that he makes his own Champagne. Since 2001, Bertrand has been doing just that and is continuously mentioned with the likes of the new champagne superpowers, Dominique Moreau (Marie Courtin), Pascal Agrapart and Cedric Bouchard. He is situated in Aube, in the Cote de Bar subregion of Champagne, which is geological and geographically closer to Chablis than it is the rest of Champagne. His Blanc d’Argile shows this beautifully, with it jokingly being considered a sparkling Chablis by Bertrand himself. This wine is incisive, with elegant complexity and fine, delicate bubbles. Spending 20 months in barrel with lees contact, it develops notes of shortbread, yellow plum, apple and honeysuckle, with other elements of blossom, lemon rind, grapefruit piths and herbs. The finish is soft and long, proposing the thought that you should always have Vouette et Sorbee Champagnes on hand. $114.99

Champagne Agrapart Venus Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru 2010
To end off this tasting, I decided to pour a wine that most, if any of the people attending would of heard of. There is connotation with Champagne (and with wine in general), that the more money you spend, the better it is. Now, this wine is $200 more than the rest, but compared to other champagnes in this price point (ie. Krug, Dom Perignon, Cristal), you aren’t necessarily paying for the name. Compared to these champagnes, Champagne Agrapart is relatively unknown, and only produces miniature amounts of champagne a year compared to the bigger houses. Located in Avize, in the Cote de Blancs, Champagne Agrapart is a grower-producer, focusing on bringing terroir of Avize to consumers. This particular Champagne is their most exclusive, coming from a single Grand Cru Chardonnay vineyard in the heart of Avize. The vineyard sees no heavy machinery, with only men and horse named Venus working on the land. It saw about 6 years on lees before disgorgement, create a wine with beautiful complexity. Notes of brioche, yeast, biscuit, mineral, wet stone, blossom, citrus and touch of apple. I should mention that this wine was served in a Burgundy glass, allowing the wine to breath and show its full potential. $359.99

Overall this tasting showed a wide variety of sparkling wine styles, and with the lovely cheese board from Peasant Cheese, we were all able to explore different aspects of the wines. The customer favourite for the evening was the Vouette et Sorbee Blanc d’Argile with 10/18 votes!
Thank you to everyone who attended the tasting!

- Abigail Pavka
[email protected]

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