Lynda wondered aloud, “What’s so amazing about champagne?” Before Bill could answer, Colleen piped up, “Oh let me tell you!” Alan jumped in, “And when she’s done, let me tell you too.”
The answer, both Colleen and Alan readily agreed, is that champagne can be drunk and celebrated all on its on, without any the need for accouterments. Colleen told us of her annual champagne parties where her group of 10 girl friends could polish off twenty bottles in a single sitting – without any food.
Indeed, we realized that when we drank still wines, we’d usually enthuse, oh this juicy bottle of Shiraz would go so well with baby back ribs. Or, some stinky triple cream cheese would nicely cut through the acidity of a crisp cold glass of Sancerre. But never do we wonder about the food that would improve the taste of a champagne.
And the bubbles of course. Who doesn’t like the slight tickle of fizz on the tongue? And the fact that it quickly lubricates and lends a giddiness to the party?
So on a rainy Wednesday evening, 11 of us gathered together in a cozy basement cellar and worshiped at the alter of rose champagnes and sparkling wines.
2011 Vallformosa Pinot Noir “Col.lecio” Brut Cava Penedes Spain $35 (100% pinot)
Gorgeous pale orange blush. Light, clean-ish, with bright notes of strawberry on the nose and palate.
NV Charles Baur Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rose Alsace France $16
A more golden hue. Cool nose of mint, metal. “Candied fruit”. There’s a nice lift to the tartness in the finish. Great value for money.
NV Montenisa Brut Rose Franciacorta Italy $45
More golden in color. Some stinky cheese, bread, nuts and grass. Someone said, “under ripe strawberries”. Not too big a fan.
NV Fratelli Lunelli Ferrari Metodo Classico Brut Rose Trento Italy $35
Matchstick sulfur on the nose. Sadly, this wine was “off”. Not sure what went wrong; I guess we’ll have to try tasting another bottle some other time.
NV Chandon Brut Rose “Cuvee Etoile” North Coast California $50
Dark pinkish-gold. Super grassy wine with an earthy nose. Someone called it “liquid bread”. Matt hailed it as one of the best Californian sparkling wines.
2009 Schramsberg Brut Blanc de Noirs North Coast California $35 (87% pinot, 13% chardonnay)
This was one of my favorites for the evening. Straw yellow in color – and you could taste the Chardonnay notes in lemon, apples, orange and marmalade in this one.
Co-op: NV Paul Goerg Premier Cru Brut Rose $42
Another one of my favorites. Beautiful blush. Sharp cheese nose, tart, but juicy on the end.
Cremant: NV Besserat de Bellefon Brut Rose “Cuvee les Moines” $50
Another star. My favorite of the lineup. The loveliest color of sunset. Earthy, but light, like a cool breeze playing through the vineyard on a damp fall evening. Chalk, white rock, wet wood. Loved the refreshing lift at the end.
Saignee: NV Laurent-Perrier Brut “Cuvee Rose” $100
This was decent; its main fault was to follow on the hills of the Cremant. Er, I didn’t really have any notes on this one except that for the price, I’d happily take two bottles of the Cremant in its stead.
Big House NV: NV Bollinger Brut Rose $110
Pale pink color. Chalk and yeast on the nose. Tart, sour finish. Bill wasn’t particularly complimentary about this one, considering his predilection for Bollinger usually. He remarked that it had the sort of sour taste one might after having drunk one too many glasses of champagne.
Big House Vintage: 2004 Veuve Clicquot Brut “Vintage Rose” $85
Lovely note to end the evening. Deeper pink blush color. Some barnyard stink; big and juicy. Tart in the mouth but freshens up at the end.