Deligeroy Cremant de Loire Brut

Price: $11.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Premier Wine Company

What They Said:

NV Deligeroy Cremant de Loire BrutPer K&L Wines “A pale yellow wine with tiny bubbles, this Cremant de Loire Brut is rounded and delicate with a fine, nervy, complex nose and the freshness of Chenin Blanc, floral Chardonnay and fruity Cabernet Franc from 20- to 30-year-old vines. With its lively attack, it evolves gracefully across the palate with nice aromatic persistence in the mouth and lingering notes of fresh peaches and pear.”

What I Think:

(12.5%) Blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc – From Saumur in the Loire Valley of France which just happens to be the largest producer of sparkling wines outside of Champagne. This one is made in the traditional method and is pale gold, yellowish color in the glass. Fresh, crisp, and lively on the palate this one starts with toasty, baked apples and a firm lemon minerality. This all rides on top of a fine, bubbly, creamy mousse that is present throughout all the way to the dry, lingering finish. A nice QPR at $12. Be sure to let this one warm up a bit after you take it out of the fridge as it shows much better.

Wine Geek Notes: Couldn’t find the varietal percentage on this one for the life of me. If anyone happens to know holler!

Rating: Buy It

Gruet Winery Brut Rosé

NV Gruet Winery Brut RoséPrice: $13.99 @ K&L Wines

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “Sparkling wine from New Mexico, you say? Yep, and it’s really good, too! The Gruet family makes champagne in France and fell in love with New Mexico when they were visiting. The result of this love is a classically styled Brut Rose with bright strawberry fruit and toasted bread on the nose. Clean, raspberry fruit on the palate with a dry, crisp finish. Only 5000 cases produced. A wonderful bargain!”

What I Think:

(12%) 100% Pinot Noir – Hails from New Mexico which seems a bit unlikely and explains why this has been on my list of wines to try for quite some time. This one is NV (per winery website it is limited to 5,000 cases per year) and starts by showing beautiful color and big bubbles in the glass. On the palate it is lifted with lively strawberry and raspberry and a tinge of orange (Clementine) peel. Yeasty, toasted bread on back side with a touch of minerality. The berry fruits make it all the way through to a nice, dry, crisp finish. I’m a fan!

Wine Geek Notes: 88pts Wine Spectator, Residual Sugar = 1%, Aged 24 months en tirage

Rating: Buy It

Jean-Louis Denois Brut Tradition

Price: $14.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Premier Wine Company

What They Said:

NV Jean-Louis Denois Brut TraditionPer K&L Wines “Outstanding sparkling wine from the Languedoc? Absolutely and resoundingly, YES! There will be those of you who will scoff at the price of this wine, and claim that a sparkling wine set so low will never be worth any serious consideration. Well, those of you would be WRONG. One of the rising stars of the Languedoc, Jean Louis Denois makes exciting, world class wines that nonetheless remain amazingly inexpensive, a fact of his location more than anything else. His vineyards sit in the very southwestern corner, at the foot of the Pyrenees, and include red, white and sparkling examples, all made from perilously low-yielding vines, vinified with as little interference as possible. Denois’ Brut Tradition is composed of 50% each pinot noir and chardonnay and spends 18 months on the lees before degorgement. It is dry, elegant and long, with notes of hazelnut, red berries and toasted bread. This is one delicious bubbly! 12.5% abv.”

What I Think:

(12.5%) 50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir – Made by Jean – Louis Denois, a sixth generation winemaker with roots to Champagne, this one hails straight out of the Languedoc. More specifically from Limoux in the southwest corner of France in the foothills Pyrenees. Made in the traditional method this one has a rose hue in the glass with some initial bubbles that dissipate quickly. Dry, crisp, and refreshing on the palate with nice green apple and lime fruit followed by a rocky, lively acidity. This one is delicate with a creamy mousse throughout. The mid-palate is yeasty with a touch of nuttiness and leads to a citrus hued, lasting finish. At $15 this may be spendy (or not if you are used to buying proper Champagne) but it is worth the price of entry. The kind of wine you should always have chilled and ready to go in case a celebratory situation (or large parties/weddings) avails itself…

Wine Geek Notes: Aged 18 months on lees before disgorgement

Rating: Buy It

2006 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs

2006 Schramsberg Blanc de Noir Sparkling WinePrice: $29.99 @ Friend/Gift

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines: 90 points and 1 Puff from the Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine: “90% Pinot Noir; 10% Chardonnay. A full dose of creamy yeast backed up by light, directly cherryish notes and by hints of burnt paper and baked brioche brands this wine as the real thing. It is explosively bubbled and is bristling with acidity and becomes a trifle hard and austere, yet it counters that minor bother with a minerally streak and a long finish.” (Volume 34 Issue 1: November 2009) And, according to Wine Spectator: “Enticing aromas of lemon tart and raspberry lead to creamy, decadent baked pear, toasty spice and crème brulee flavors. Drink now through 2013.”

What I Think:

(13.8%) 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay – A long time favorite this one did not disappoint. Yeasty nose with crisp peach notes. A nice, creamy mousse greets you on a dry palate with green apple and lime flavors. Hints of white raspberry add a tad of sweetness to the acidity on a crisp, toasty, bubbly finish that lasts nicely. Load up on this one if you can!

Rating: Wow!

NV Albero Sparkling White

NV Albero Sparkling WhitePrice: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

Per RJ’s Wine Blog “Very nice bubbly for $5, that’s for sure. Nice acidity levels, but still a creamy / buttery finish, with just a touch of lemon and the right amount of crispness. The bubbles are closer to a Prosecco than a champagne, which I really like because I think you can taste the fruit and the wine more with lighter bubbles than with most champagnes. Definitely competes with a $15 – $20 bottle of champagne and much more flavor than most sub-$15 champagnes I’ve tasted. Overall, a great value at $5.”

What I Think:

Having tried both the Monastrell (Mourvedre) and Tempranillo from Albero with lukewarm results this one was on my pass list until I stumbled on RJ’s review mentioned above. On opening the first thing I notice is the lack of bubbles in the glass, as in almost none. On the nose crisp white fruit notes, apple and pears. Simple on the palate, not much flavor at all. The overall structure is yeasty and/or creamy but nothing is happening on top of it. Just a slight hint of citrus/tartness on the finish. Nothing wrong with this one, just better options available. That said, I think this one jsut doesn’t match my palate as the sentiment on this one across the blogsphere as been widely positive.  At 11.5% reminds me of the NV Espiral Vinho Verde from Portugal which checks in at 9%. I prefer that one, with its effervescent quality it reminds me more of a sparkler than a still white wine.

In need of other sparkling recommendations? The Zonin Prosecco is my pick in the more traditional flavor profile style. Another favorite is the Schloss Biebrich Sekt from Germany.

Rating: Skip It

Editor’s Note (05-Jun-2009): Per my comment below I modified this post to reflect that the general impressions of this wine across the internet have been largely positive.

2006 Navarro Brut Sparkling Wine

2006 Navarro Brut Sparkling WinePrice: $25.00 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per Navarro Vineyards “Most winemakers focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for sparkling wine but Navarro admits to a rebel streak. In 1989 we made our first sparkling Gewürztraminer and fans still ask when we’ll make more. This is our third bottling. We don’t make it every vintage because most years we are fairly confident that we will get our grapes to 24° Brix, perfect for our signature still Gewürz. In 2006 we weren’t sure. The vintage was cold and late and the grapes had already turned a lovely ripe, russet color at only 20° Brix. Just as importantly, it was one of the rare vintages where we had several blocks of Gewürztraminer with no millerandage; all the berries were normal-sized two-seeded berries. The ratio of free-run juice to skins was high, promoting fine flavors, clean aromas and high natural acidity, perfect for sparkling wine. We decided to celebrate with this bottling. We blended 10% Chardonnay into the cuvée to strengthen the wine’s backbone. Delicate peach and spice in the aromas and flavors combined with fresh baked-bread yeastiness and a dazzling citrusy finish. Silver Medal winner.”

What I Think:

Gewurzt, interesting. This one came in my last wine club shipment, only the 3rd time they’ve actually made it since 1989. Offers a nice sweetness that isn’t quite as cloyey as usual. Fizzing and yeasty with a bit of citrus on the backbone. Hints of crisp apple notes appear sporadically throughout. Full disclaimer, I’m not a huge fan of Champagne so dropping $25 is pretty much never in the picture. If that seems reasonable to you, definitely get this one. Certainly enjoyable, I’d just rather buy a nice bottle of red…

Rating: Pricey

NV Zonin Prosecco Brut

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Americal Beverage Group

What They Said:

Per Wine Enthusiast “An enjoyable bubbly with good creamy froth, white peach, mineral and hard candy tones that are nicely balanced and spread throughout. It has a thick consistency and a snappy, crisp close.”

What I Think:

My second endeavor into the bubbly section at Trader Joe’s. The first time I grabbed a Sekt, now a Prosecco and I also have a Cava in the fridge now. Guess I should grab one from France next time! As for Prosecco, raise your hand if you knew that was a grape… That is only one of the interesting things I learned in this brief Wikipedia article. I also learned that this grape is grown in northern Italy and often used to make Asti. That give anyone else flashbacks to high school or just me?

Could this wine be any smoother? Wilder on Wine calls it easy-going. I couldn’t agree more. The wine is frothy in the glass and shows floral aromas with hints of citrus on the nose. On the palate you are greeted by what other than bubbles, not much fruit to be found as this one is dry throughout. Towards the end it shows traces of mineral that disappear as fast as they arrive. The finish is very clean, nothing lingers on.

As much as I would like to compare this to the Sekt I cannot. They don’t share much in common beyond the bubbles. Oh yeah, that and the fact that I will be buying more of both of them!

Rating: Buy It

NV Schloss Biebrich Sekt

Schloss Biebrich SektPrice: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Mutual Wholesale Liquor

What They Said:

Per Good Wine Under $20 “Bright and floral, this wine was almost as translucent and colorless as water. It had a modest apple aroma, and when the wine was poured in the glass there was an alarming amount of froth (ok, mousse for the geeks out there). Usually wines with lots of froth/mousse the bubbles are big and harsh, but the Schloss Biebrich bubbles were smooth and small. On the palate, there wasn’t a harsh or bitter note, just warm pears flavors and a lingering impression of flowers on the finish.”

What I Think:

On request I decided to give a sparkler a try. After finding it on Good Wine Under $20 I felt quite lucky after more or less randomly pulling this one off the shelves at Trader Joe’s. Reading the review there I learned a lot about Sekt. Never would have guessed Germany consumed the most sparkling wine of any country in the world. I tried to find out what grape this was made of to no avail. Dr. Debs is guessing Riesling so I will get on that bandwagon. Another interesting fact, per all of my friends at wikipedia, is that most Sekt is made partially of grapes from outside the country. As Sekt made exclusively from German grapes can be labeled as Deutscher Sekt I think it is safe to guess this bottling is among those containing foreign grapes.

Now on to the main event, the color on this one is very light…could I guess a color? Almost clear, I guess I would say platinum. Subdued at first on the nose, then crisp white fruit aromas appear, seems to be mostly pear with hints of apples and peaches. Doesn’t look to bubbly in the glass but seems to be popping in the mouth. The palate starts full and rich, towards the middle the bubbles kick in full force. I mean more bubbles than I have ever experienced.  The finish is light and crisp, a hint tart almost similar to a Sauvignon Blanc. This was not overly sweet, like some German Rieslings, which is what I was expecting. An excellent value! I usually only have sparklers as an aperitif. Next time I try this one I think I’ll do so with an Indian or Thai dish and see how that goes…

By the way, if you are like me and rarely drink sparkling wine there is more good news. After opening this one I put the original cork back in for a week and it held just fine. In fact today is day 9 and it is still drinking fine. Enjoy!

Anyone else have a request before I buy another bottle of sparkling?

Rating: Buy It

NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut

Price: $36.99 @ Friend/Gift imported by Clicquot Inc.

What They Said:

Per wine.com “One of the world’s favorite Champagnes. Rich, nutty, and complex non-vintage Brut.  From one of the most prestigious Champagne houses, this Brut is the gold standard for non-vintage Champagne year in and year out. Deliciously rich on the nose and palate, with almond croissant and suggestions of Calvados in the aroma and flavor. A fuller-bodied style, creamy and round, with a long, lingering nutty finish. The best Champagne in a recent tasting. Simply superb!”

What I Think:

That same friend that was kind enough to invite us over for fresh tuna also sent us home with what must have been at least a 5lb piece for our continued enjoyment. How could you say no? From there we picked a few lucky friends to help us work through the cut. The couple that had joined us had bought this champagne for us when our son was born. As it was still chilling it seemed like as good of a time as any. I am not much of a champagne guy so you’re not going to get tasting notes from me. What I will tell you is that I want a bottle of this in my house at all times because if I am going to celebrate this is how you do it.

Rating: Wow!