Intending to wine and dine your lover this Valentine’s Day? Not sure if you should choose sparkling wine or Champagne? It doesn’t need to be complicated. There are fantastic varieties of both available locally. Here are a couple of my favorites:
- Sparkling wine can be called Champagne only if it is from the Champagne region of France.
- Grapes most widely used to make champagne are chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier.
- Méthode Champenoise, also known as “fermented in a bottle” tells us how it is made. Other sparkling wines may use this same method but many less expensive wines do not.
Méthode Champenoise is the method that must be used in Champagne. It is also used outside of that region and because of the labor intensity, you will see higher prices. The secondary fermentation happens in each bottle rather than in a big tank so there are more steps involved in “putting the cork in” so to speak.
A local staple, Patterson Cellars has also added sparkling wines to their lineup. With three tasting rooms, there is plenty of opportunities to pop in for a taste of their new wines, including this blanc de blancs!
Pale gold in color, our 2016 100% Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs opens with aromas of citrus blossoms and light tropical fruits. Fine bubbles bring out flavors of fresh apple tart, lemon crème and hints of hazelnut that last long into the satisfying finish. Pair this delightfully dry sparkling wine with raw oysters, a nutty parmesan or asiago, or perhaps a double cream gouda. Cheers! And if you feel like a day trip, visit their tasting room in Leavenworth!)
A new favorite find is Iron Horse Vineyards in Sebastopol, CA. On a visit this past fall I was able to see the Méthode Champenoise in action. The property was stunning and the wines, five made the Wine Enthusiast Top 100, are quite impressive as well.
This image is an example of what happens after the wine has aged in the bottle with the yeast. They tip the bottle so the yeast goes to the neck. It is frozen, and when the temporary cap is removed the frozen yeast exit, they add the dosage (sweetness amount chosen by the winemaker) and then the cork is added.
To round out the list, a few Belle & Bottle picks from around the globe:
Drappier Carte D’Or NV Champagne, FR $45
The Carte d’Or cuvée is the very expression of the Drappier style. With its very high proportion of Pinot Noir, one is almost tasting a Blanc de Noirs. Champagne with a fine aromatic richness, it opens with aromas of stoned fruits such as white vineyard peach. A spicy hint announces a powerful and complex palate. A vinous Champagne of lovely complexity with a characteristic note of quince jelly.
Tenuta Col Sandago Brut Rosè, IT $20
The perfect Italian bubbles for your special Valentine’s celebration. Delicate notes of wild strawberry and rose petal are revealed when tasting this dry and well-balanced sparkling wine made from pure Wildbacher grapes. A beautiful deep rose color with exquisite packaging makes this look and taste much more expensive than the price tag.
Available for purchase from Belle & Bottle. Happy Valentine’s Day!