Monday, September 23, 2013

A Quick Drink: Sparkling Wine


If marooned on a desert island or a dessert island, I'd gladly choose sparkling wine to be my beverage of necessity. Sparkling wine isn't just for weddings and holidays; it is a fantastically versatile wine that gets along with most foods or can stand on its own. Let's cover some basics first. Basics, not an exhaustive history and production specs to bore a snob.

All Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne. To be called Champagne, a wine must originate from the Champagne area of France. Where is Champagne? If you find Paris on a map and move your eyes right 100 miles or so, you'd be staring right at it. This area is cold and that lends the wines a distinct acidity. Plus, the chalky soil is perfect not only for growing grapes of character but for storing wine. Most Champagne comes from the juice of three grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Champagne's bubbly personality comes from a secondary fermentation inside the bottle. It is a long process to make Champagne, one I am happy not to have to do.

Most Champagnes are produced by houses, who purchase grapes or wine from grape growers and create a house blend. My favorite Champagnes are grower Champagnes, meaning the guy who grows the grapes makes the Champagne.

All of which is a long way of saying, my favorite sparkling wine isn't a Champagne. It is that bottle of $14 brilliance you see in front of you. Saint-Hillaire claims to be the oldest sparkling wine in existence. Crisp and refreshing, this sparkler can be drunk on its own, with food, or in a mimosa without breaking the bank. I drink entirely too much of it.

And you should too.

7 comments:

thomas cook said...

sold where?

Anonymous said...

Thomas- Dorignac's has it.

willifred said...

My two favorite champagne growers are Cedric Bouchard (pinot noir) and Lormandier Bernier (chardonay) ...that's my desert island stuff

Anonymous said...

Great little article as always!

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