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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

WBW 28: Festive Sparkling Wines

posted by snekse
It's always fun to try deciding what wines you're going to review for Wine Blogging Wednesdays. This month's theme, Festive Sparkling Wines (hosted by Culinary Fool), features sparkling wines which includes anything that is not from the Champagne region of France.

Immediately about 4 or 5 options jumped into my head. I could profile the N.V. Schramsberg Vineyard Blanc de Blancs - one of the only American sparkling wines served at The French Laundry. Then there's the always fun N.V. Vigne Regali (Banfi) Brachetto d'Acqui Rosa Regale - it's like a wine cooler, only better. For novelty we could contemplate the aspects of serving sparkling wines in a can with a straw ala N.V. Francis Coppola / Niebaum-Coppola Sofia Blanc de Blancs. Or play to a lesser known wine and oft snubbed varietal by picking the N.V. Luccío Moscato d'Asti, another one of my favorites.

Well as crunch time came and I had to make a decision, I actually had it made for me (and in this case, 4 for me). I received an email from Vino100 stating that they were going to be having a tasting on Tuesday featuring sparkling wines! Sweet! So you get not one, but four reviews today.


N.V. Korbel Chardonnay "Champagne"
750ml ~ $9.99 (Beverages and More)

Vintage: N.V.
Type: White - Sparkling
Producer: Korbel
Varietal: Chardonnay
Designation: n/a
Vineyard: n/a
Country: USA
Region: California


Tasting Notes
Sauvignon blanc in color. No nose at all that I could detect. Super fizzy. Good balance of sweetness and acidity. Not very yeasty. Fruit forward flavors of green apple and grapefruit.

Rating: 87


N.V. Le Brun No 1 Family Estate Chardonnay No. 1 Cuvée
750ml ~ $UNKNOWN

Type: White - Sparkling
Producer: Le Brun No 1 Family Estate
Varietal: Chardonnay
Designation: No. 1 Cuvée
Vineyard: n/a
Country: New Zealand
Region: South Island
SubRegion: Marlborough


Tasting Notes
Colored like a light Chardonnay. Nose of yeast and a bit of green apple. Too sour - not enough sweetness to balance the acidity and not dry enough to be pleasantly dry. Finish was a bit yeasty. Not what I'd expect from an award winner.

Rating: 82


Korbel Natural Méthode Champenoise
750ml ~ $10.99 (Beverages and More)

Vintage: 2003?
Type: White - Sparkling
Producer: Korbel
Varietal: Champagne Blend
Designation: Natural Méthode Champenoise
Vineyard: n/a
Country: USA
Region: California
SubRegion: Sonoma County


Tasting Notes
A bit darker than the Blanc de Blanc - the Pinot Noir grapes must lend a bit of color - more honeyed. Smells like sweet carbonation, as if you added some honeysuckle syrup to tonic water. Very traditional in flavors. Dry, but not brut. Very enjoyable finish.

Rating: 86


N.V. Korbel Brut Rosé
750ml ~ $9.99 (Beverages and More)

Vintage: N.V.
Type: Rosé - Sparkling
Producer: Korbel
Varietal: Rosé Blend
Designation: Brut Rosé
Vineyard: n/a
Country: USA
Region: California


Tasting Notes
Color of water with some spilled food coloring. Just a very slight tinge of pink that was very translucent. The smell of berries was almost undetectable on the nose. Not much to talk about on the attack, the finish was a little more evident of slightly unripe strawberries. Might be nice with certain desserts. Not a lot of sweetness in this wine, so it won't compete with the pairing.

Rating: 84


So there you have it. I don't think any of these wines could compete with the sophistication of the Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, but with the Schramsberg running $26+, I don't really expect them to. For the money, I think the Korbel Chardonnay "Champagne" and the Korbel Natural are good values. If you're looking for a sweeter wine, the Chardonnay is the obvious choice, just as the Natural is the obvious choice for a drier style wine. If you are looking to keep something on hand, I'd lean towards the Natural as I think it could improve with some age.

WINE REVIEWS:
WBW 19: When in Rhone
WBW 20: Anything But Chardonnay...
WBW 27: Icy Desserts (Ice Wine)
WBW 28: Festive Sparkling Wines
WBW 30: New World Syrah
WBW 31: Box Wines
WBW 34: Washington Cabernets
WBW 45: Old World Rieslings


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