Over the summer I enjoyed a number of different sparkling wines and Champagnes. Most of us think of sparkling wine as something that should only be drunk on special occasions or at Christmas and New Years, but I don’t agree. Sparkling wine can be enjoyed all year round and I especially like it in the summer and always with food. Here are some of my favorites.
Brut Rose “Faive” NV Nino Franco (Veneto) made from 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. The grapes are vinified separately with some skin contact for color and cold fermentation in stainless steel autoclaves. The wine is light salmon in color, with good bubbles, nice red fruit and a hint of pear. $17
The name Faive is Venetian dialect for the small “guided” tongues of flame and sparks rising toward the sky from a great fire, lightly and freely carried by the wind. This producer is known for it’s high quality Prosecco and the Rustico is a great value for the money. We drank a bottle of it with the plump ripe figs from the tree in the Brooklyn backyard our friend Tony Di Dio. Both Tony and his fig tree were featured in an excellent article — with recipes — in the NY Times last Wednesday. Here is a link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/29/dining/in-brooklyn-an-abundance-of-fig-trees.html?_r=1&hpw
Spumante Santé Brut IGT 100% Falanghina (Campania) Donna Chiara. The soil is chalky clay. There are 2,500 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the first week of October. Fermentation lasts for 40 days. Illaria Petitto, owner of the winery, always refers to the vinification system used as the Martinotti method. (The Charmat method, as it is more popularly known, was invented by Federico Martinotti in Asti in the 1920’s.) Refermentation takes place at low temperatures in autoclaves for about 6 months. Then the wine matures on the dregs for another 2 months. The wine had very good bubbles; it is fresh, delicate with floral and citrus aromas and flavors. It is great as an aperitif and with fried foods. $20
Champagne Delamotte NV made from 50% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier. Delamotte is the sister house of Salon and both are part of the Laurent- Perrier group. We had it with a lobster salad with basil dressing, an excellent combination. $38
Ferrari Perlé Rosé 2004 Trento DOC Method Classico Vintage made from80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. This is a vintage Rosé from the Lunelli family estate vineyards. The grapes are harvested by hand at the end of September on the hills surrounding Trento, with either southeastern or southwestern exposure between 1000 and 2000 feet above sea level. In 2004 there was mild weather and perfect ripening conditions. The wine is aged 5 years on selected yeasts. It is an elegant and complex Rosé with ripe red berry aromas and flavors with hints of raspberry and a touch of almond. I has a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. I had it with beet and ricotta gnocchi in sage butter sauce. $75
I believe that Ferrari makes some of the best Method Classico wine in Italy.
Champagne “Grand Siècle” Crand Cuvèe NV Laurent-Perrier (Trous-sur Marne) made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. 12 of the most prestigious villages supply the grapes and only the best plots are selected, as are the finest musts from the pressings. I believe this is a blend of three different vintages. The blended wine is aged during the second fermentation on the yeast for about five years. It has great tiny bubbles and complex aromas and flavors that make it go very well with food.
The 17th century in France, the era of Louis XIV, became know as the Grand Siècle, the Great Century and Louis XIV was the first king of France to drink Champagne.
I was very impressed with this wine when I had it at a Wine Media Guild tasting last December and I wanted it for my Birthday. Michele made zucchini flowers fried in a light tempura batter stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella, which I love. We usually have them with Prosecco but it was a celebration so only Champagne would do. It turned out to be a perfect combination.
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2000 Blanc de Blancs (Rheims) the grapes are pressed immediately in presses located in the vineyards. The first pressing, known as cuvee, is followed by two more pressings known as the first and second “tailles.” Only the juice from the “cuvee” goes into this wine. Temperature controlled fermentation takes place and about 5% of the wine is matured for a few months in 225 liter new oak casks. Prior to disgorgement, the wine is aged for 9 or 10 years. 2000 was a good but not a great year for champagne but the wine was showing very well and it is their flagship Champagne. The wine is full, rich and toasty with hints of white fruit, good acidity and a long lingering finish. I had it with smoked salmon canapés.
Dom Ruinart 1996 Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (Rheims), made from 100% grand cru Chardonnay grapes, 65% from Cotes de Blancs and 35% from the mountain of Rheims. It spends 9/10 years in the chalk cellars before release. 1996 was a very good year in Champagne. It was just beginning to show some age with citrus fruit, a touch of toast, a hint of brioche, and a very nice mineral character. I had it with Pizza Bianca at La Pizza Fresca in NYC. It was another great combination.