Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sparkle, Sparkle Little Wine

Wines of the Week

Mumm Napa Blanc de Noirs (BLAN de NWAHR)

Blanc de Noir (literally "white of blacks") is a dry sparkling wine made primarily from red pinot noir grapes. However, the skins are removed early in the wine-making process, leaving a elegant light salmon color wine behind. This is a fine sparkling wine for the holidays or New Years. It's flavorful and full-bodied enough to stand up to the stronger flavors of a Christmas dinner, while delicate enough to not overwhelm the more subtle flavors. Hints of cherry and strawberry. Nicely balanced acidity. Available at CostPlus World Market for $13.99 and at Creekside Cellars. 4 stars.

Loredan Gasparini Proseco Brut (pro-SEK-koh)

Prosecco is a white Italian grape that is used to make slightly sweet or dry sparkling wines. This prosecco is completely dry. It has a very delicate color; in fact, it's nearly clear. Clear citrus aromas of grapefruit, lemon, as well as apricot. This is a very crisp, dry sparkling wine. It has a very strong flavor and feel of grapefruit, with the sharp, but pleasant acidity. Not overly complex but extremely refreshing. This would be excellent with a soft cheese like brie or camembert, or by itself on New Years Eve. Personally, I would buy a few bottles and put them in the back of the fridge and wait for July. This wine would be the perfect cold wine drink on a hot July day in Chico. $16.00 (a bargain) at Vino 100. 4 stars.

Chandon Blanc de Noirs

The Chandon Blanc de Noirs is a wonderful light sparkling wine. Unlike the Mumm Blanc de Noir, this wine lacks even a hint of pinkness, and is a very light and pure straw color. On the nose it's somewhat sweet and appley, with just a hint of lemon. On the tongue it has a bright acidity which makes it very refreshing. Citrusy, slightly grapefruity flavors come through. Actually, it reminds me of a nice Riesling more than anything else. This is a very refreshing and light wine, that I think everyone will like. Rated 87 points by Wine Spectator magazine. $12.59 at Costco. 3.5 stars.

Scharffenberger Brut

This is a commonly available wine. The Scharffenberger brut is a decent sparkling wine. Creamier, but not as aromatic on the nose as the Chandon. On the palate, the Scharffenberger has a pronounced caramel note, but overall tastes more like a light pilsner than a sparkling wine. It's not a very fruity wine, but it is dry. Less crisp than the Chandon. A decent, but not outstanding effort. Very drinkable. 3 stars. Available at Costco.

Lucien Albrecht Blanc de Blancs Brut (BLAN de BLAN)

Not technically a champagne, since it comes from the Alsace region of France instead of the Champagne region. A blanc de blanc, this wine is made from pinot blanc grapes. However, its very chardonnay-like on the nose with prominent butter aromas. The taste is also very chardonnay-like, with butter, cream and just a touch of green apple. Very dry, and a bit on the tart side, this wine will appeal to people who like chardonnay, but may be unpleasant to others. Available at Creekside Cellars for $18.99. 2.5 stars.

Korbel California Champagne Brut

Now we're getting into the stuff you can buy anywhere. Korbel is known far and wide as a producer of inexpensive California sparkling wines (translation: cheap champagne). Of course, this isn't a real champagne, and they shouldn't be using the name, but they are so deal with it. Very candied and sweet on the nose like some appley hard candy. It really has a very clear aroma of apple juice, which is actually not that appealing unless you're having a Martinelli's. Not much flavor on the palate. A hint of that apple juice, but it's actually mostly just fizz. If it wasn't so cheap, I'd say give it a miss. Available everywhere, but Costco has it for $7.99. 2 stars.

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