Celebrating Bastille Day in Napa, Mumm, J Winery, & Korbel Standout,
I Really Can’t Drink Champagne, or at least, not without feeling it the next morning! And yes, that includes its Sparkling Wine cousins. Even the driest are still too sweet, and honestly my life is already sweet enough without additional ‘sweetification’.I even drink my espresso without sugar.
But that didn’t stop me from tasting my way through the thirty of so sparkling wines at the July ‘Tweet Up’ at the Quent Cordair gallery in downtown Napa. When Linda Cordair announced that the wine theme this month was to be sparkling wines I groaned, and then complained, but she would not be dissuaded.
In hindsight she was right! This is the perfect time of the year for a sparkling wine, and it inspired all of the girls to wear their prettiest dresses, because it was, after all, the night for champagne. Honestly the number of actual sparklers from the Champagne district were rather small, most were from California, with some inclusions from Spain and Italy.
As much as California wine makers are careful to not use the Champagne moniker for their sparkling wines, I think that calling it a night of Champagne was nice, since it was incidentally Bastille Day. Of all the Tweet Ups it was definitely the most festive, but I did learn some things about sparkling wines that I didn’t know before.
First, they don’t spit well. The way I make it through most extensive tastings is by tasting, but not drinking the wine. The bubbles make it hard to spit the wine out, because the depth of flavors are hiding behind all of that carbon dioxide gas. I needed to hold it on my palate until the bubbles settled down, at which point the wine had so made itself to home that spitting it out was out of the question.
Second, aging a sparkling wine really makes a difference. My favorite wine of the evening was the Mumm DVX that we brought. What is funny about that is, of the Mumm lineup the DVX is not my favorite, but the combination of toasty flavors, a lovely nose, disciplined but gentle bubbles all combined to make it a wonderful experience. It was only later that I realized that we had been aging the wine for about five years, maybe it was seven or eight since the harvest, and the flavors had a chance to mature.
I was disappointed by the Domaine Chandon line up. I tasted through three wines up to their Etoileand they all came across as fluffy. The Schramsberg Rose had some wonderful notes, a nice sense of redwood hillsides and those great old caves. A delight was the Korbel Sec. Sometimes a winery’s financial success hurts their wine reputation and such is the case with Korbel.
Korbel produces huge amounts of their reasonably priced sparkling wine and so most people associate it with that level of quality. They have an excellent lineup of wines that are only sold at the winery, and the Sec was a nice example of that. You could taste the resin sweetness of that stretch of the Russian River Valley with its rolling fogs and narrow turnings. There was so much there in the mid range flavors; and the whole package was carried on fine bubbles. It was a beautiful expression of ‘place’.
There were also wonderful additions from smaller wineries, Foppoli, Wattle Ridge, and a lipstick red syrah sparkler that looked great in the glass, but the bubbles struggled a bit to carry all of those flavors. Luckily there was a bottle of J, from Russian River and that is a stunning wine. That was the wine that we finished the night with, and a good time was had by all.
Ralph & Lahni de Amicis are authors of the Amicis Winery Guides (Find them on Amazon), and owners of Amicis Tours. They are authors of over twenty books on health, design, business and travel. Their iPhone Apps, The Napa Valley Wine Tour, and The Sonoma Winery Tour are a tour guides approach to these beautiful area, complete with 1000’s of photos and insights. Their articles and products can be found on the sites http://www.amicistours.com and http://www.spaceandtime.com
Call 707-235-2648 for Tours, Books & Seminars Copyright Ralph & Lahni de Amicis 2013 All tasting fees, hours, wine lists, etc are subject to change.