Sparkling Stars on a budget

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It’s that time of the month again!  Time for Wine Blogging Wednesday, when a particular theme is used to inspire bloggers to post on a single subject all over the blogging world. This month, in honor of Valentine’s Day (hurl), Tim Elliot of WineCast asks us to think about sparkling wines on a budget.  In this case, budget means anything under US$25.  Well I can do that!  There are literally dozens of sparkling wines from all over the world that match this price point.  I am spoiled living here int he Bay Area, as I have access to many local wineries – at least 10 sparkling houses among them, as well as excellent retail locations that offer wines of all types and cost levels. Sparkling wine is used to celebrate all around the world.  Sparkling wine is known for toasting at weddings, or romantic dinners.  Well, I’m having none of it I tell you!  Sparkling wine is for every day!  It’s for potato chips and picnics.  Why save something so delightful for a few times a year?  With a few budget selections, you can make it an everyday wine. I have been hard at work … um…researching this for you.  What did I discover?  There are so many to choose from, it’s difficult to walk down the wine isle at the grocery store and not find an excellent wine under US$25.  For my picks, I am going to go for three specific wines:   1.  A house “genertic” from Trader Joes.  TJ’s has realy upped the game from Two Buck Chuck.  Trader Joe’s North Coast NV Sparkling Wine.  For $10, you really can’t go wrong.  TJ’s has been consistantly improving thier house labels over the years; this wine is no exception.  It was very well balanced, and had a roundness of body that I particularly enjoy.  Lots of pear, Asian pear, and apple flaors, with a touch of brioche.  This north coast fruit is 60% Chard, 40% Pinot Noir, from somewhere in the vast North Coast catch all AVA.  It’s hard to tell where it’s really from,but given the cooler growing climate up there, it’s prime for bubby. This will make a frequent appearance at my house! 2.  A favorite of mine, is the Roederer Estate NV.  Typically under $20, and often much lower (like at Safeway, when it’s on sale for $16.99) this is an outstanding example of a domestic sparkler, and one I never get tired of.  Roederer Estate, located in the cooler climate of Anderson Valley, is the US arm of the French house Louis Roederer.   Surprisingly, the NV is a low alcohol wine, so yes, at 12% ABV by all means!  Drink more!  I love the bright green apple, pear, and creamy flavors in this wine.  Bight with citrus, it tastes like it cost a lot more than it does. For a splurge, try the L’hermitage! 3.  A surprise guest appearance of a NEw Zealand sparkling wine, Quartz Reef Method Traditionalle NV, from Central Otago.  Quartz Reef is known as “The […]

Mumm's the word!

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It was a cool crisp morning here in Northern California, when I got up entirely too early for a Saturday. After my first 10 cups of coffee, I was somewhat alive, so I packed myself up in to my trusty German wine mobile, and headed up to the Silverado Trail for a 10am breakfast tour of Mumm Napa Valley. As fate would have it, the roads were clear (mostly) of traffic, save a few particularly slow tourists, and I got to Napa in record time. As we gathered at the gates of Mumm, eagerly hoping they would open the door, the fog just started to back off the valley and we could see the winter vineyards layed out before us. Finally, at last! The doors openeed and our assorted posse of bloggers was greeted by the Mumm assistant Winemaker Tammy Lotz and self appointed cruise directory Mitch Davis with a morning glass of Deveaux Ranch. But first, who was Monsieur Deveaux? Mumm Napa was started as a joint venture between G.H. Mumm, the French Champagne House, and Seagram & Sons. As luck would have it, it has changed hands, and now is owned by the same parent company (Pernod Ricard) as G.H. Mumm, so there is a sense of continuity and quality that carries through. Guy (that’s Gee by the way, not Guy as in Guy Smiley) founded the Napa operation, and he was convinced that the Silverado Trail location would be a perfect balance of foggy, cool nights and hot long days; these conditions are idea for sparkling wine’s dance of acid and ripe fruit. Having a location in the New World also allows Mumm Napa to play beyond the constraints of the rather strict Champagne region bylaws – adding Pinot Gris to the blend for example, and to play with the best wines from the best regions. So, here we are, on a chilly Saturday morning, glass of rather delectable 2006 Deveaux Ranch in our hands. This sparkler is a perfect representation of Mumm Napa, since it blends 58% Pinot Noir, 28% Chardonnay, 9% Pinot Meunier and 5% Pinot Gris, something that you might see in a Cremant, but never in a Champagne. This is a perfect start to the day with green apple, pear, and tropical flavors with a crisp acidity. For something different, you should RUN out and grab this wine. Yes, you’ll need to go to the winery, but who doesn’t want to sit on the terrace and sip bubbles? ‘Nuff said.  This is a winery exclusive wine, but it’s worth a trip.  It’s what I opened on New Year’s Day and it was simply stunning – well worth the $36. As we meandered through the production facility, we stopped to try our hands at blending the 2011 Chard & Pinot, to create the different blends that Mumm creates. While they were still base wines, you can easily see how the high acid and low sugar content in the base wine creates a beautiful acid in the finished sparkler. I […]