Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bubbles for your Valentine

In the world of Champagne there is much beauty, passion and majesty. It sparkles like a precious stone dancing in the sun’s last light and although all Champagne is sparkling wine not all sparkling wine can be Champagne. Although the methode champenoise is duplicated in wine growing regions across the globe, true Champagne is a sparkling wine from Champagne, a region in France. It does not come from Spain, California, Canada or anywhere else for that matter. It is unique to the region and as such its name is jealously guarded by the ever vigilant French and rightly so! Therein lies the crux of a life long battle between the fortunate Champenois and their wonderful elixir and the not so lucky, located outside the region, producing good bubble in the time honed method.

All sparkling wines, the good, the bad and the ugly strive to emulate Champagne, the Holy Grail of fizz, if not in style at least in name. Through due diligence and aggressive litigation this is no longer the problem it once was and it is unlikely you will ever come across a bottle of Greek or Chinese Champagne. Today most wine making countries have come up with terms to indicate if a sparkling wine, though not Champagne, has been made utilizing similar methods. Look for such terms as cremant, cava or tradional method on the label. This is the best way to put the sparkle in your favourite bubble and indicates the producer is serious about what they are doing.

Today most people enjoy sparkling wine that is fairly dry. If you want a dry Champagne or sparkling wine look for the term Brut on the label. It will be dry, much drier than a bottle labeled Extra Dry, which really means off-dry and is therefore sweeter than a Brut. Very strange these funny little terms but what is a person to do?

Serving sparkling wine is easy. A standard (750 ml) bottle will serve 6 people a glass of wine each. Just refrigerate the bottles for at least a couple of hours or plunge into a bucket of ice and water for 20 minutes. To open grasp the cork firmly and twist the bottle and resist the temptation to let her rip. The “pop” of a cork is magic but a big waste of bubble and money. Just ease the cork out with a sigh, not a bang and gently pour into flutes or tulip shaped glasses and enjoy. Look deep into your sweetheart's eyes and utter the appropriate salutation!

Lanson Black Label Champagne Brut France

Lanson is one of the few Champagne houses to not put its new wines through malolactic fermentation to soften the acidity. The finished product leaves the cellar crisp and clean with plenty of fruit and a core of underlying acidity that needs time to soften. When given that time the flavours of this little brut can be sublime. Very refined with tiny bubbles, biscuit and apple aromas, a lovely creamy texture with great depth of flavour and a steely resolve. Highly enjoyable!!!

Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne Brut France

This well managed growers co-operative is one of the fastest growing Champagne brands in the market today. Beautifully balanced with delicate citrus, apple and toasty aromas that ease onto the palate and linger through the finish. Tight and restrained with understated elegance!

Piper Heidsieck Champagne Brut France

Florens-Ludwig Heidsieck was the son of a Lutheran pastor and made a living as a draper in Reims before getting into the fizz bizz. Two hundred and twenty-five years later his Champagne house is still hanging in there. A good all rounder with gentle floral aromas and crisp citrus flavours makes this sassy little brut a good introduction to any evening.

Delamotte Champagne Brut France

Bubble is a wonderful thing! As they say “you can have too much champagne, but never enough!” Delamotte is light gold in colour with tiny but persistent bubbles. Seamless and superbly balanced with sweet pear and peach flavours, good length and a crisp elegant finish!

Duval-Leroy Champagne Brut France

Family owned and operated, Duval-Leroy farms about 150 hectares of prime real estate, much of it located in the heart of the Cote des Blancs. This provides about 25% of the company’s annual grape requirements and helps maintain the quality and consistency of these fine champagnes. Big and bold with an attractive yeasty, toasty bouquet, great balance with lively citrus flavours, fine acidity and a soft creamy finish that just keeps going!

Charles Heidsieck Champagne Brut Reserve France

Light gold with a gorgeous mousse and a wonderful nose of hot buttered toast, baked apple and white honey. Very ripe but not heavy, with great length and balance. If you are in the market for bubbly this beauty has it all.

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