Hello and Happy Friday!
This very special Friday Feature focuses on my annual pick for the Sparkling Wine Value of the Year!
Only this time, there is not one, but three choices – a necessary decision given the incredible quality of these bottles of bubbles!
I often say that Champagne is the greatest example of sparkling wine in the world. I began thinking about that statement, and realized that maybe it isn’t entirely true. Maybe over the 14 years that I’ve been in the business, my palate has been trained to think this way?
The reality is, other parts of the world are making sparkling wine at an incredibly high level. The three wines featured today prove that even if it doesn’t say Champagne, it can still be “serious” and complex.
In the world of sparkling wine, you get what you pay for. You may find less, and more, expensive sparkling wines to choose from, yet these qualify as the best sparkling wines I tasted this year. They are exceptional bargains given their quality.
Without further ado, my three selections that no sparkling wine fan should be without. Consider these for all your holiday sparkling wine needs!
One final note – Perman Wine Selections will be closed this coming Tuesday, December 6th for a private event. Sorry for the inconvenience!
N.V. CLOTILDE DAVENNE CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE
An outstanding sparkling wine from winemaker, Clotilde Davenne!
Independent vigneron Clotilde Davenne has built a new 8.5-hectare domaine in the Yonne, parcel by parcel over the last eight years, while simultaneously working as the chef oenologue for the prestigious Chablis house of Jean-Marc Brocard. Her dream had always been to have her “hands on” all aspects of the production and as a grower she is now fully integrated into the life of each of her wines, from bud break to bottle. The results are soulful, expressively vibrant wines that uniquely speak of the particularity of their origin.
This is one of two Crémant’s she produces. It is a blend of 2/3 Chardonnay and 1/3 Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay comes specifically from vineyards around Préhy, a village that sits just south and a little west of the town of Chablis. The famed Kimmeridgien soil of this area lends a distinct minerality to the grapes that grow in it.
This Crémant de Bourgogne is produced in the traditional method, with secondary fermentation in bottle. It is aged on its lees for 18 months before being disgorged. After disgorgement no “liqueur d’expedition” or secondary dosage is added.
The result of all of these nuances is an incredibly vibrant, refreshing, terroir-driven style of sparkling wine. An expressive nose combines notes of lemon and orange citrus, with hints of mineral. On the palate it is laser beam-like, with focused, precise bubbles, and a very dry and mineral finish.
You certainly won’t find a more refreshing style of sparkling wine than this. An easy choice for one of the Sparkling Wine Values of the Year!
$21.99 BTL. /$263.88 CASE
2010 SILVANO FOLLADOR VALDOBBIADENE SUPERIORE DI CARTIZZE BRUT
In just a little over a decade of being in business, Silvano Follador has emerged as one of the top sparkling wine estates in all of Italy!
The two wines featured here are going to challenge everything you know about the Prosecco grape. Yes Prosecco, the most misunderstood wine and grape known to man.
In the hillsides north of Treviso, in Northeast Italy, the Prosecco grape is grown in various styles and quality levels. Travel through the region and there are billboards devoted to the stuff, yes, it is that big of a business, with about 150 million bottles produced a year!
Prosecco is made in the Charmat method, with secondary fermentation in tank, usually very large tanks. Because of this style of production, it often yields simple, fruity sparkling wine. Dosage, or the addition of sugar mixed with wine, is a huge factor in the sweetness level of Prosecco. Many consumers relate Prosecco to sweet, which is understandable but unfortunate, given that the most complex styles are dry.
Which leads to Silvano Follador. They are anything but the large-scale producer of Prosecco. For one, they are located in an area known as Cartizze, a hillside that sits at 1,000 feet above sea level, and has only 107 hectares, divided among 140 growers. Want to buy one of those hectares, it will cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5 million Euros!
Silvano and Alberta Follador were fortunate to inherit a tiny parcel in Cartizze, specifically near Follo, from their grandfather. With the goal of making the best sparkling wine possible, they created a magnificent winery that produces only 30,000 bottles a year. The vineyards are farmed organically and according to biodynamic principles.
The modern winery features small stainless steel tanks, which help the Cartizze Prosecco gain complexity since Follador leaves it on its lees for 9 months before bottling. The Cartizze Prosecco has a secondary dosage, but it sees very little sugar, making this a bone-dry style, and one that shows off the purity of the fruit.
It is an exceptional Cartizze Prosecco, the best I’ve ever tasted. Only 6600 bottles were produced, and you will find it nowhere else in Chicago. Italian sparkling wine fans, you must taste this!
$28.99 BTL. /$173.94 SIX-PACK CASE
2009 SILVANO FOLLADOR “METODO CLASSICO – DOSAGGIO ZERO”
There is no secret at this estate, the Follador’s would like to eventually do away with the Charmat method in favor of Metodo Classico. While it is much more labor intensive, the classic method of secondary fermentation in bottle, results in different aromas and flavors, those that they ultimately prefer.
How much do they believe in Metodo Classico, so much so that one of their flagship wines, their most expensive wine is simply labeled a Vino Spumante di Qualità. By producing a sparkling wine in this manner they are not eligible to earn the label of the DOCG.
The same level of care for the grapes employed for the Cartizze go into those for the Metodo Classico. The difference between the two sparkling wines, is that this one does undergo that secondary fermentation in bottle and it sits on its lees for 16 months. There is also no sugar added on the secondary dosage – thus the title “Dosaggio Zero.”
The aromas and flavors that result are subtler, less fruity, and closer to Champagne in style. It is a superb and complex sparkling wine, one of the best I’ve ever tasted from Italy.
Only 3500 bottles of this wine were produced, an extremely rare treat for any sparkling wine fan!
$31.99 BTL. / $191.94 SIX-PACK CASE