Wine for a hot summer’s day

Evidently, this has been one of the warmest summers in Chicago, and might possibly be the longest, if we keep up with the number of consecutive days in the 80s and above.

Personally, I haven’t thought much of it. Perhaps because I have relatively recently, returned from Singapore, perhaps it’s also because I now have the total comfort of central air at home and freezing temperatures in the office (vs. back when I was a poor student in a rickety old apartment with rattling radiators and fans that churned sluggish warm air, and on a campus where air conditioning was apparently a luxury).

But it was warm and humid yesterday when we walked around Frank Lloyd Wright’s old playground in Oak Park, and when we strolled around the Lakeview neighborhood in the evening to kill time before DGS. I thought constantly and longingly of the refreshingly chill waters of the lake.

On days such as this, it’s impossible to drink any heavy red wine. Even a light Pinot Noir sounds too hot. So we chugged some beer at DMK, and adjourned to Y&A’s for a sparkling wine DGS. 🙂

Wines overall were good. I pre-lined my stomach with antacid, and so the bubblies didn’t bother me. Despite being full, I couldn’t help but stuff my face with the delicious bruschetta, pate, and cheeses served. One of Aaron’s new coworkers used to work at Sam’s as a cheese-monger, so she came armed with a half dozen cheeses that were out of this world. My two favorite were the Midnight Moon and the triple cream Brie, the latter which is so fatty and rich and creamy, it just melts in your mouth. Heavenly.

DEAD GRAPES SOCIETY presents SPARKLING WINES
August 14, 2010

PROLOGUE:
H. Billiot Fils Brut Rose

This “grower” Champagne comes from a small producer in Ambonnay, one of the top villages of the Champagne region. It’s made 100 percent from black Pinot Noir grapes, which impart a pale salmon color with just a hint of rosy hue. Multiple streams of lasting pinpoint bubbles loft subtle and complex aromas that mingle apple and strawberry and a distinct hint of cocoa. Rich and rather full-bodied, crisp and tart flavors follow the nose. It finishes fresh and clean, with a lasting aftertaste of fresh apples and a citric snap. $70

– This was my personal favorite of the night; way to kick off the tasting. 🙂

ACT I: FRENCH CHAMPAGNES
Ruinart Blanc de Blancs

The wine shows a superb, golden yellow color with a beautiful luminosity and a fine and persistent mousse. The nose is clean and intense with warm, rich notes of brioche, French toast and roasted almonds. On the palate the wine is very supple and harmonious, with notes of honey and minerals on the long, sustained finish. Ruinart Blanc de Blancs is produced from a blend of 100% premiers crus Chardonnay grapes from the best of recent vintages. Grapes from the estate vineyards in Sillery and Brimont (ancestral home of the Ruinart family) are joined by carefully selected grapes from other premiers crus vineyards in the Côte de Blancs and the Montagne de Reims. $64

– Y and Nat said that this was a classic girl’s sparkly… I liked the stinky cheese nose, but wasn’t that enamored with the bubbles – too fizzy for my liking.

Bollinger Brut Special Cuvee

The denomination Special Cuvée was created in 1911. A blend par excellence, the Special Cuvée is the purest expression of the Bollinger style; of its craftsmanship and its singular conception of what a champagne should be. “The NV Brut Special Cuvee opens with elegant, well-delineated aromas of honey, brioche, roasted nuts, orange zest, flowers and peaches, of which appear on the palate in a classy, finessed expression of the house style. This is an especially refined and delicious NV Champagne.” ~WA. $60

– My second favorite of the night I think. Loved the soft bubbles; Y and Nat said that this was more of a “masculine” wine, because of the stronger mineral notes.

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin

Clicquot’s signature non-vintage Brut is loved all over the world for its crisp, full flavors, consistent quality and celebratory yellow label. This classical dry Champagne is a blend of two-thirds black grapes (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) for body, balanced with onethird Chardonnay for elegance. It has a fine persistent sparkle and golden Champagnecolor. $35

INTERMISSION:
Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut Rose

The Mirabelle Brut Rosé is a specially crafted blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Schramsberg’s select cool-climate vineyards in Carneros, Anderson Valley, and the Sonoma and Marin coastal areas of Northern California. Pinot Noir lots, including a few fermented with skin contact, provide brightness of berry fruit and body, while Chardonnay lots lend length and zest to the palate. Additional flavor depth and aromatic complexity results from the blending of base wine lots aged in barrels and tanks for one or more years. The finished Brut Rosé exhibits fresh, elegant and toasty aromas that lead into lively and delicious fruit flavors on the palate. $19

This was much simpler rose compared with the H. Billiot Fils Brut Rose… but I’d buy it again in a jiffy – great deal for the money I think.

ACT II: NON-FRENCH SPARKLINGS
Gramona Gran Cuvee 2005

Gramona is the last family owned Cava maker in Span. The Gran Cuvee is a blend of three grapes, Xarel.lo (that’s right it has a period in the middle), Macabeo and Chardonnay. The still wine is aged one year in French Oak and thirty months “on lees” (in the bottle while the yeast is doing the second fermentation). The nose is buttered toast, hints of butterscotch and a bit of lemon zest. The taste is sharp green apples on your tongue and fresh baked apple pie in the back of your palate with that champagne nutty, yeasty note evident; cool, different levels of flavor. It has both a tart citrus component and a creamy almost buttery element. $15

Mionetto Sergio Prosecco

A touch or a few old grape varieties is blended with Prosecco grapes to create a superbly dry, slightly fruity wine with a hint of acidic crispness. $15

– We first tasted this Prosecco at the WineStyles Belmont DGS a couple years ago; since then, it’s been a reliable favorite to bring to parties.

Mumm Napa Blanc de Blancs 2003

Mumm Napa’s 2003 Blanc de Blancs is a truly unique wine made of a Varietal makeup of 82% Chardonnay and 18% Pinot Gris. The Chardonnay provides a crisp acidity and citrus notes, while the Pinot Gris complements with fuller stone fruit tones and spicy components. This combination delivers a wine with a refreshing crispness and a rich palate. $22

EPILOGUE:
Shingleback Sparkling Shiraz

Inky dark purple, pours up with a frothy pink mousse; bubbles are lasting, with the persistent, pinpoint quality. Good black-fruit aromas blend plums and berries. Mouthfilling and fresh, bubbles add a creamy texture on the palate. Fresh and appropriately tart; although its residual sugar maps to moderate sweetness, carbonation and acid balance present a “dry” flavor impression. $24

– A light and sweet wine to cap off the evening

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