Every year at this time, the Wine Media Guild would hold a Champagne tasting hosted by Ed Mc Carthy, author of Champagne for Dummies. I looked forward to attending, tasting the wines and hearing “Champagne Ed’s” commentary, which I would write about for this blog. Because of Covid, the event was cancelled both last year and again this year. Instead, I will write about the Champagne and sparkling wines that I have tasted over the last few months.
Cosmico Vino Frizzante IGT Lazio 2019 Casale Certosa made from 100% Trebbiano from the Castelli Romani. The soil is of volcanic origin. The wine ferments in the bottle for about 12 months. Then there is the refermentation in bottle and the wine is disgorged by hand. Aging takes place in the bottle. The winery is certified organic. This is a wine with hints of citrus fruit, lemon, a note of pear and a touch of apple with good acidity.
Benepop Vol.1”Benepop Ancestrale” Sparkling wine made from 50% Falanghina and 50% Fiano Terre di Briganti The two varietals are separately processed from the beginning. The hand harvested grapes are carried to the cellar in 18kg bins and then double sorted, destemmed and pressed. The must clarifies itself with static gravity in stainless steel vats where it ferments with only the help of the indigenous yeast at controlled temperatures. The partially sweet wine is left to refine on its lees for about 6 months. At the beginning of the Spring the wine is bottled. The natural increase of the temperature favors the resumption of the fermentation inside the bottle and the yeast eats all the sugar in excess. It is recommended to suspend the natural sediment in the bottle before consuming it in order to fully enjoy this fun wine. Just gently turn the bottle upside down. The winery is certified organic and is biodynamic. This a a dry sparkling wine hints of citrus fruit, green tropical fruit, grapefruit and it is a very pleasant wine to drink.
Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2018 Valdobbiadine Brut Natural Silvano Follador Made from 100% Glera. The soil is marl and clay. Organic and biodynamic farming methods are used but do not have certification. Dosage 0. Residual sugar 0.0% The wine is refined in cement vats for 6 months. It has hints of apple, pear, white peach and apricot. I was very impressed by this Prosecco.
DOC Trento Spumante Rosè +4 Reserve 2011 Brute Classico Method Letrari made from 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir grown in calcareous soils. The vineyards are at 400 meters and there are 4,000 vines per hectare. The vines are trained with the traditional pergola trentina system or the modern guyot based on the age of the vines. The wine is aged for 28 months on the lees, four more than required by the official production code. It is a brut (5,7 g/l – so on the lower side of the brut scale which goes from 12 g/l to 0 g/l). This is a consequence of the aromatic and phenolic ripeness which grants volume and taste on the palate and doesn’t require the “support” of sugar. It is a full bodied Sparkling wine with black fruit aromas and flavors a note of blackberries and a touch of brioche. I have always liked Spumante from the Trentino area and I believe it is the best zone in Italy to grow Pinot Noir. This is a very impressive wine.
Cuveé Brut Metodo Classico (Champenoise) Tenuta Montauto made from 100% Sangiovese from a 15 year old vineyard at 200 meters on the coast south of Grosseto in the Maremma. The soil is clay and skeleton rich. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. The grapes are picked at full maturity by hand and harvest takes place after first week of September. The grapes are gently pressed to obtain a yield of 50%. Fermentation takes place using the cold techniques to enhance the aromas. Sugar 4.5 g/l. This is a crisp, fresh fruity wine with hints of citrus, flint, a touch of passion fruit and a note of brioche. This was the first time I tasted a sparkling wine from Sangiovese made by the Champenoise method and I was impressed.
Franciacorta DOCG Satèn Brut “1701” 2016 Società Agricola Cazzago San Martino made from 100% Chardonnay from a 10 hectare vineyard with morainic terrain with stones. The training system is guyot and there are 4,500 plants per hectare. Harvest takes place at the end of August. 80% of the hand picked selected grapes are crushed in a pneumatic press and fermented in steel tuns at a controlled temperature. 20% undergoes cold maceration with fermentation in new barriques. Aging is for 7 months in steel or barriques. The second fermentation takes place the spring following the harvest. The wine remains on the lees for at least 30 months and 3 to 4 months following the disgorging. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, yellow fresh fruit, with a hint of brioche and a touch of pastry cream.
Reggiano Lambrusco NV “Concerto” 2019 Medici Ermette (Produced at Tenuta La Rampata in Modena) Red wine, dry and lightly sparkling and fermented naturally. Made from 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara. The training system is cordon speronato and the soil is clayey. The wine is certified organic. It has hints of red fruit, strawberry, raspberry and cherry. The wine is dry and fruity with a clean finish and pleasing aftertaste. Concerto is the world’s first single vineyard vintage Lambrusco. It is served lightly chilled.
Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve NV Made from 40% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. It has tiny bubbles, a fruity delicate freshness with hints of citrus fruit, ginger and a touch of brioche. It has become one of my favorite champagnes.
Champagne Nathalie Falmet Brut NV “Le Val Cornet” made from a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from a single vineyard in the Côte Des Bar. The soil is Kimmeridian marl covered with Portland limestone. The champagne has hints of apricot, pear, apple and a note of almond.
Champagne Vilmart & C. “Grand Cellier” made from 70% Chardonnay and 30%Pinot Noir. Aging for ten months in used oak casks prior to blending for the second fermentation. The wine spends two years on the lees before disgorgment. It has hints of pear, apple, a touch of brioche and a hint of hazelnut.
Roses de Jeanne Champagne “Côte de Béchalin”. Cedric Bouchard. 100% Pinot Noir from the 1.5-hectare lieu-dit of Val Vilaine. The production is very limited. This is a single-vineyard, single varietal, and single vintage, zero dosage Champagne, organic farming, low yields and harvesting at the right moment. Only free run juice is used and fermentation is in stainless steel with indigenous yeast. There is no filtering, fining or cold stabilization. The wines are bottled with no dosage under less pressure. This is full-bodied Champagne with hints of fruit, spice, lively acidity, a touch of pear and ginger, a note of dried flowers and a long and lingering finish.
Champagne 2014 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils made from 100% Chardonnay from 20% Cramant Grand Cru, 38% Chouilly Grand Cru, 32% Cuis 1er Cru and 10% Vertus 1er Cru. The soil is mostly chalk. Fermentation is in stainless steel. Malolactic fermentation takes place and the wine remains on the lees for 65 months. The wine was disgorged in September 2020. The wine has notes of tropical fruit, with hints of mint and orange peel.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year