07 May 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Themed Tasting: Sparkling


Toward the end of 2012, I took a two-day wine tasting trip with my cousin, Nicole. She lives out of the country, all the way on the other side of the world (read: Australia), and so my family and I don’t get to see her all that often. Because of these far-and-few-between visits (well…every other year is actually REALLY good), I’ve been trying to make sure that we get to spend a little time together. This time, I insisted that we tackle some wine tasting, and this is something I recommend you try as well.

Step 1: Identify the person you think you can hang out with for at least two days of tastings
Step 2: Pick a theme
Step 3: Plan a little, or plan a lot, but plan to have a great time!

IMAG2079My question to my cousin: Which do you want to taste – red, white or sparkling? Her choice: sparkling. EEeexcccellleenntt! I’ve been wanting to focus on sparkling wines, because they are actually not in my “wheelhouse” of wines (read: I kinda stink at focusing on sparkling tastings). Since we were both going to be located in the greater North Bay, I decided to theme our two-day outing as Sonoma vs. Napa Sparklers. Now, some might say “sparkling in Winter?!”. Yes! IMO (in my opinion), wine tasting in winter is the best time to go tasting, because not as many folks are around, and that means more time/opportunities to speak with the tasting room staff to learn about what you’re tasting.

Sonoma locations: J Vineyards, Korbel, Iron Horse Vineyards, Gloria Ferrer
Napa locations: Domaine Carneros, Domaine Chandon, Mumm Napa

Though many of the wines from these wineries wouldn’t have been looked at me regularly, I can’t not mention the fact that sometimes even the main Wine Deviant (me) needs to break out of looking for what is different about wines or wineries to focus on doing a different kind of activity. And this is what you should do to! Be different, and plan a themed wine tasting. Go for a specific varietal, clone or just style of wine, and tackle it! It’s time to learn!

As for our fun, here are my nerdy notes for the wines that stood out (and many of which, I purchased):

J Vineyards 2002 Brut Magnum RRV
score: 4 out of 5
n: gala apple, light yeast, opens up to creme brulee & caramel, amazing!
t: light cremant, slight creme brulee, short finish

Korbel 2008 Masters Reserve Blanc de Noir, $25 (50% Pinot Noir, 40% Sangiovese, 10 unknown/blend)
score: 3+/4 out of 5
n: fruity nose, slight taffy
t: wow! a stand-out to all the rest, not familiar with use of Sangiovese for a sparkling wine, but a fun choice!

Iron Horse Vineyards 2008 Wedding Cuvee $38, (85% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay)
overall, our 1st choice here, obvious crowd-pleaser
(sorry the notes are sparse on this one…end of the day, and we were outside in the cold. I really liked it, but I was clearly ready to go home, by the way that note reads)

Gloria Ferrer Va da Vi NV (non-vintage), $22 (Muscat addition)
score: 4 out of 5
n: nice fruit, apple cider note
t: mimics the nose, nice body and light bubbles, nice sweetness to the cuvee, good fruit sweetness, good acidity, peach (white)

Gloria Ferrer Anniversary Cuveee NV (non-vintage), $40
score: 3+/4 out of 5
n: mild apple (gravenstein) and slightly creamy
t: nice creamy, yeasty notes, slight citrus peel, good finish

Domaine Carneros 2008 Brut Cuvee, $27
score: 3+/4 out of 5
n: white flower/lemon flower
t: round body, nice mandarin citrus note, good crispness, long finish

Domaine Carneros 2008 Vermeil Demi-Sec, $36
score: 3+/4 out of 5
n: slightly creamy note, honey note durig warm up and light white flower
t: nice mold fruity sweetness, white peach and pear notes, gala apple on backend

Mumm 2007 Blanc de Blancs
score: 4 out of 5
n: Granny Smith nose, tart
t: tart, granny smith prevalent, round, very good balance

Mumm 2000 DVX
score: 4+/5 out of 5
n: beautiful creme brûlée!
t: same as nose, creamy, light lemon, long finish, light green apple and slight pineapple. This wine was incredible, and a testament to what Mumm sparkling wines can do when left to cellar for a few years!



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