Sparkling Wine

Bubbles in Virginia: Trump Winery

Virginia now has eleven wineries producing sparkling wine and Trump Winery is making two great examples.

Last week #VAWineChat featured Trump Winery, their Sparkling Winemaker Jonathan Wheeler, and the SP Blanc De Blanc 2008 and SP Rosé 2008. Jonathan shared with us some background on Trump Winery, formerly Kluge Winery, and their sparkling wines…

  • Their Sparkling vineyards, planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, were chosen because of their unique microclimates in the Monticello AVA.
  • Largest planting is 95 acres of chardonnay. 50% of vineyard production is dedicated to Sparkling.
  • They hand pick all the fruit for Sparkling by night and gently press to retain the fruit’s best qualities.
  • They are only making vintage Sparkling wine which is very different than others in Virginia.
  • Their Sparkling wines are made in the true tradition of Champagne using Méthode Champenoise.
  • Trump Winery has the capacity to produce and finish over 100,000 gallons of wine a year. The 2008 Blanc de Blanc produced 8,000 cases while the 2008 Rosé was only 1,200 cases.

While the 2008 Blanc de Blanc is delicious…100% Chardonnay and aromas / tastes of cooked apple & pear pastry…the Rosé was my favorite.

SP Rosé 2008

  • Region: Monticello AVA in Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Variety: 95% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Noir
  • Aroma: Raspberry and strawberry
  • Taste: Crisp red fruits with hints of toast
  • Price: $29
  • My thoughts: The gorgeous color and delicious taste make this a great every day or special occasion sparkler.

Trump Winery continues to receive accolades and awards for their work, building on what Kluge Winery started helping put Virginia wine on the map. Most recently Trump Winery’s 2008 Blanc de Noir was named Top Ten American sparkling wines by Gayot. And their Tasting Room is a beautiful place to visit.

Cheers to bubbles in Virginia!

Autumn Food & Wine Parings with Fine Wine Divas

Our Fine Wine Divas October event was all about this delicious season, Autumn Food & Wine Pairings.

We gathered at the fabulous new hotel and hot spot in Washington, DC, The Graham Georgetown, in their farm-to-table restaurant, A.G.B.

And our wine selection for the evening took us around the world:

  • NV Steininger Grüner Veltliner from Austria
  • 2012 Idiot’s Grace Riesling from Washington, USA
  • 2009 Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir from California, USA
  • 2009 Domaine Rois Mages Rully Blanc “Les Callioux,” from France
  • 2003 Castello di Lucignano Chianti Classico Riserva from Italy
  • 2011 Venge Vineyards Scout’s Honor from California
  • 2003 Leonetti Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington

While we enjoyed all of the wines, our top two for the evening were:

NV Steininger Grüner Veltliner Sekt

Gruner

  • Variety: Grüner Veltliner (sparkling) from Kamptal Valley, Austria
  • Aroma: Blossoms and stone fruit
  • Taste: Lychee and citrus
  • Price: $23.99
  • Pair with: Salty or fried appetizers, or on its own as an apertif
  • My thoughts: This was a real treat! Not only did I enjoy this sparking wine from Austria but it reminded me I need to try more Grüner Veltliner as a refreshing white wine.

 2009 Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir

  • Variety: Pinot Noir from Napa Valley, California
  • Aroma: Black raspberries, plum and forest floor
  • Taste: Creamy and spicy plums
  • Price: $70
  • Pair with: Anything with mushrooms, seafood and roast chicken
  • My thoughts: Elegant, smooth, and comforting, and a nice fuller bodied Pinot Noir.

While the Grüner was served on its own, it would also work well with the delicious charcuterie. The Pinot Noir was versatile enough to pair with everything, but we particularly enjoyed it with a savory mushroom and blue cheese crostini.

Our lovely host for the evening, The Graham Hotel, is Washington DC’s newest boutique hotel. The restaurant was delicious and cozy. The Observatory, the rooftop bar and lounge, offers guest panoramic views of the nation’s capital. It was the hot spot this summer as the only rooftop bar in Georgetown.

Everyone walked away with some great new ideas for wine and food pairings for the season.

Cheers to Autumn!

It’s Regional Wine Week – Drink Local!

And with wine produced in every state of the U.S., we can all participate!

Regional Wine Week is the sixth annual celebration of the growth of the U.S. wine industry beyond the West Coast. As co-founder and Washington Post wine writer Dave McIntyre said this week in his article, “It is sponsored by Drink Local Wine, an effort formed in 2008 to draw attention to the impressive wines being made right around here — wherever “here” happens to be.”

While “here” for me is Virginia (I’m enjoying a White Hall Vineyards 2009 Merlot as I write this), on Monday at Siema Wines Portfolio Tasting I was able to taste a great selection of wines from the lesser known wine states with Andrew Stover of Vino 50.

Vino50™ celebrates American winemaking at its best, with a focus on eclectic and unknown American wine regions. Thanks to Andrew’s Vino 50 many of the great wines across the U.S. are getting out there. In addition to tasting two of my favorite Virginia wineries at the event, Breaux Vineyards & Boxwood Estate Winery, I tasted from Missouri, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and New York. There were many great ones among the 20+ but here were my two favorites…

Sawtooth Winery Tempranillo 2009

  • Variety: 100% Tempranillo from Snake River Valley, Idaho
  • Aroma: Plum, hints of spice and cigar
  • Taste: Medium bodied red with nice balance of black cherry and oak
  • Price: $25.00
  • My thoughts: Who knew? Wine in Idaho AND Trempranillo!? Sawtooth has a great line up and this was one of my favorite tastings.

Stone Hill Winery Blanc de Blancs 2008

  • Variety: primarily Vidal grapes
  • Aroma: Toasty
  • Taste: Crisp, soft with hints of floral and vanilla
  • Price: $18.99
  • My thoughts: Yum! Bubbles from Missouri! This sparkling wine is made in the traditional French method. And is a big award winner! Stone Hill Winery has a great story…”Nestled among the rolling hillsides of the Missouri River, in a countryside reminiscent of Germany’s Rhine Valley, is the little town of Hermann. Perched prominently on one of these hills, with a commanding view of the village, is Stone Hill Winery. Established in 1847, Stone Hill grew to be the second largest winery in the United States. The wines were world renowned, winning gold medals in eight world’s fairs, including Vienna in 1873 and Philadelphia in 1876. By the turn of the century, the winery was shipping 1,250,000 gallons of wine per year. Then came Prohibition…” Check them out.

Cheers to great things happening across the U.S. in regional wine!

West Coast Book Tour Wine & Travel Adventures: Treveri Cellars

One of the great things about a West Coast Book Launch Tour (for my new book, KeeKee’s Big Adventures in Paris, France) is there were great travel and wine experiences to be had…from Washington to Oregon to California!

We started in Seattle which meant Washington wine. Just into town, a friend gave us a bottle of Treveri Cellars “Blanc de Blanc” Extra-Brut. The same winery happened to be featured at an event Saturday night at Bottlehouse, a great little wine bar in Seattle’s Madrona neighborhood. This time the Trevari Cellars Sparkling Rosé.

Treveri is a family-owned sparkling wine house in Washington’s Columbia Valley. They opened in November 2010 with a mission to put Washington sparkling wine on the map. Since its opening, Treveri wine has been served at White House State Department receptions and the James Beard Foundation in New York.

Producing a wide array of sparkling wines, including non-traditional varieties such as Riesling, Pinot Gris, Petite Verdot, Mueller-Thurgau and Syrah, Treveri focuses on 100% varietal sparkling wines.

The “Blanc de Blanc” Extra-Brut is very interesting and bursting with apple notes. But my favorite was the…

Treveri Cellars Sparkling Rosé

  • Variety: Chardonnay and Syrah
  • Aroma: Berry and citrus
  • Taste: Sparkling strawberry with hints of rhubarb
  • Price: $18
  • My thoughts: This is an excellent sparkling AND rosé…similar to something you’d taste from France. It was a big hit with the crowd at the event!

Cheers to this great sparkler from Washington!

More to come from the West Coast Book Tour’s Wine & Travel Adventures.

The Wide World of Sparkling Wine

Champagne, Sparkling Wines … always make any occasion festive! But it is a very complicated subject. What makes Champagne, Champagne? And what’s the difference between Champagne and Sparkling Wine?

During our March Fine Wine Divas event, we set out to explore the subject. Here are some of the highlights and the group favorites.

What is Sparkling Wine?

Sparkling wine is a wine containing significant levels of carbon dioxide – making it fizzy. This carbonation may result from natural fermentation in the bottle or in a tank (see “How is Sparkling Wine Made?” below), or as a result of carbon dioxide injection.

Sparkling wine is usually white or rosé, but there are examples of sparkling red wine such as Italian Brachetto and Australian Sparkling Shiraz.

Types of Sparkling Wines

  • Champagne: The classic example of a sparkling wine is Champagne. This wine is exclusively produced in the Champagne region of France. While many other countries produce exceptional sparkling wines, they cannot be called “Champagne.”
    • Since 1985, use of the term “method champenoise” has been banned from all wines produced or sold in the European Union.
    • Blending is the hallmark of Champagne wine – usually involving a blend of Chardonnay (finesse and ability to age), Pinot Noir (body) and Pinot Meunier (fruit and floral notes).
    • The majority of Champagnes produced are non-vintage (NV, no year or vintage listed), but vintage Champagne is produced when the producers feel that the grapes from that year have the complexity and richness to warrant being on their own.
  • Crémant: Sparkling wines designated as Crémant (or, “creamy”) were originally named because their lower carbon dioxide pressure gave them a more creamy rather than fizzy mouth-feel.
    • French law dictates that a Crémant must be harvested by hand with yields not exceeding a set amount for their AOC. The wines must also be aged for a minimum of one year.
    • The Loire Valley is France’s largest producer of sparkling wines outside of the Champagne region.
    • The designation “Crémant” is not limited to use within France, and other EU countries that fulfill the production criteria may use it.
  • Prosecco: Prosecco is an Italian sparkling white wine made from Glera grapes.
    • As opposed to champagne, Prosecco is almost always made by the Charmat, or “tank method.” Large steel tanks keep the wine under pressure to capture the fresh fruitiness of the prosecco grape.
    • Prosecco can be either Spumante (more bubbly) or Frizzante (less bubbly), but the taste is usually Dry or Extra Dry.
  • Cava:  Cava is Spanish white or rosé sparkling wine produced mainly in the Penedès region in Catalonia (southwest of Barcelona).
    • Cava is produced in the method champenoise, but includes grape varieties different than those used to make Champagne.
    • In 1872, Cava was first created by Josep Raventós after seeing the success of the Champagne region.
    • Cava can be produced in six Spanish wine regions, and must be produced in the traditional method utilizing a combination of the following grapes: Macabeu, Parellada, Xarel-lo, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Subirat.

How Is Sparkling Wine Made?

  • The Traditional Method: The classic way is the méthode traditionelle (traditional method), or méthode Champenoise (Champagne method), developed in Champagne, France. Wine is produced in the normal way, then bottled with a sugar and yeast mixture to sit for a second fermentation. Carbon dioxide is produced during this fermentation creating the tiny bubbles. The yeast cells die and sink to the bottom of the bottle, referred to as the lees. While the wine is aged on the lees, complexity in the flavor develops (Champagne requires a minimum of 15 months for this second fermentation). Next the sediment is removed through ‘riddling,’ the tilting of the bottle on riddling racks to allow the sediment to move to the neck. The neck is then frozen, the cap removed, the plug of frozen sediment shoots out from the pressure. The bottle is then topped up with dosage (small amount of sugar solution, amount added varies based on sweetness and dryness levels desired), recorked and wire caged. Whoosh! Quite a process. Now you know why Champagne is expensive!
  • The Charmat Method: This method, also known as the Italian method, is quicker and used to make many less expensive sparkling wines. In this process, the yeast and sugar are added to the wine in the pressurized stainless steel fermentation tanks.Then this wine is bottled.

For our Fine Wine Divas event, we tasted the following 8 Sparkling Wines:

  • Baby Prosecco Veneto IGT, Veneto, Italy ($10)
  • NV Codorníu Anna de Codorníu Cava Brut, Catalonia, Spain ($16)
  • 2008 Trump Sparkling Rosé, Virginia, USA ($29)
  • 2008 Argyle Willamette Valley Brut, Oregon, USA ($25)
  • J Cuvée 20 Brut (NV), California, USA ($28)
  • NV Louis de Sacy Brut Grand Cru, Champagne, France ($37)
  • 2006 Marguet Pere et Fils Grand Cru Brut Champagne, France ($50)
  • 2010 Inniskillin Sparkling Ice Wine, Ontario, Canada ($70)

And the evening’s favorites were…

J Cuvée 20 Brut (NV)

  • Variety: 49% Chardonnay, 49% Pinot Noir, 2% Pinot Meunier from Russian River Valley, California
  • Aroma: Nose of lemon peel, honeysuckle, and delicate yeast.
  • Taste: Flavors of apple, grapefruit, angel food cake and almond. Balanced acidity.
  • Price:  $28 available on www.jwine.com
  • My thoughts: Judy Jordan has developed an amazing wine here, and in the Sparkling Rosé they have. Founded in 1986, Judy started the company after working for her father’s Jordan Winery. You can taste the care put into the wine…grapes are hand-harvested and pressed in a special gentle press.


2008 Argyle Willamette Valley Brut

  • Variety: 63% Pinot Noir, 37% Chardonnay from Willamette Valley, Oregon
  • Aroma: Nose of pear, apple, citrus and brioche.
  • Taste: Flavors pear, Meyer lemon and toasted bread.
  • Price: $25 available from Argyle Winery
  • My thoughts: With Oregon known for its incredible Pinot Noir, it’s not surprising to find this incredible Sparkler there. Argyle has produced world-class, award-winning Champagne-style Sparkling Wine since 1987.

2010 Inniskillin Sparkling Ice Wine

  • Variety: 100% Vidal Blanc, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
  • Aroma & Taste: Nose and flavors of peach, apricot and honey.
  • Taste: Tropical fruits and honey.
  • Price: $80 available from Inniskillin
  • My thoughts: Ice wine is created by leaving the grapes on the vine into the winter months in order to concentrate the flavors. This wine packs a sweet punch but it’s a perfect after dinner drink.

While many in the group liked the Marguet Pere et Fils Grand Cru Champagne, the majority of the likes went to the above three. Nice work North America!

For more on tasting of Sparkling Wine, see Around the World of Sparkling Wine. And check out this great Sparkling Wine infographic.

Cheers to the world of Sparkling Wine!