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Preparing for Wine Blogging Wednesday – Part I

16-Nov-2006

 

Have you ever noticed that sometimes everything in your life seems to converge?  For me at this moment it all seems to be coming together around sparkling wines. While I was in New York in late October  (I know I haven’t even really mentioned that but I will get around to it soon….) one of the things I got to do was participate in a tasting of seven Veuve Clicquot Champagnes.  I acquired a bunch of information in that class – it was really great!
 
Then, while in Whistler R and I attended Oysters 101 – we take this class every year – which included a pairing of Champagnes with the Oysters.  What I learned in that class mostly reinforced what I had picked up in the Veuve Clicquot class.  Later that same night we attended a party at Araxi called Bubbles, Jazz and the Sea – a party filled with all kinds of sparkling wines, seafood and other marvelous little bites. 
 
Then, this past Tuesday I met with my women’s wine tasting group and it was my turn to organize it.  Several months ago I’d chosen sparkling wines as the theme in anticipation of the upcoming holidays.  I had planned to have a friend of mine who is in the wine industry lead our tasting but he ended up with a conflict and so I led it instead.  I was actually sort of amazed at how much I really knew and while putting together a few notes for the tasting I learned even more. 
 
And finally I’m hosting Wine Blogging Wednesday (WBW) for December and what is our theme?  Sparkling wines!  To help you prepare for the tasting I thought I’d post some of the notes I’d put together for the wine tasting group – maybe someone out there will find them useful! 
 
So consider this Part I.  I’m not yet sure how many parts total there will be but I know that this is the first one. :-)
 
At our tasting I wanted to give everyone the opportunity to try various sparkling wines.  I selected a Prosecco (Italy), a Cava (Spain), a California sparkling wine and one from Oregon to represent our local area.  We finished with a Champagne (France).  I also brought along a Cremant and a sparkling Shiraz although we did not have the opportunity to try them.  One or both of those may be my entry for WBW
 
So let’s start with Italy.  A sparkling wine that has become very trendy in the US in recent years (although it’s been the sparkler of choice in Italy for many years) is Prosecco.
 
The name "Prosecco" is now protected under European law and can be used only for the wine made from the Prosecco grape in the Conegliano/Valdobbiadene region.  Its late ripening has led to its use in dry sparkling (spumante) and semi-sparkling (frizzante) wines.  As this is a grape that is prized for its delicate flavors and aromatics, the wine itself is not made in the classic method made famous in the Champagne district of France. Rather, the Charmat method of sparkling wine is used to make Prosecco as the classic Champagne method would mean aging the wine for several years before release, robbing the wine of its freshness.

In a later installment we will talk more about the terms "frizzante" and "Charmat". 

For our tasting we tried Rive Della Chiesa Prosecco.  I like this Prosecco for a number of reasons, one of which is the bottle/packaging.  Instead of a wired cork covered with foil, the cork is held in place with waxed string.  It gives the bottle a rustic look that suits the wine.  In my area this sparkler is available for around $12 but is often sale-priced at $10. 

Other Italian Sparklers you may find: 

  • Asti (formerly know as Asti Spumante) [AH-stee spoo-MAHN-teh] A sweet sparkling white wine generally served as a dessert wine but sometimes as an apéritif. Asti Spumante tastes decidedly of the muscat grape from which it’s made. It hails from the area around the town of Asti in the Piedmont region of northern Italy.
  • Franciacorta:  [frahn-shah-KOR-tah] DOCG area located northwest of Italy’s city of Bresicia in the eastern part of the Lombardy region. This area produces a highly regarded white still wine from Pinot Bianco (Pinot Blanc) and Chardonnay and red wine from Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera, Nebbiolo and Merlot. But it’s the Franciacorta Spumante that’s so widely acclaimed. Both the Bianco and Rosato sparkling wines are made via Méthode Champenoise and use a combination of Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris), and Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir). These sparkling wines achieved DOCG status in 1995. Vintage Franciacorta wines must be aged for 30 months in the bottle. The still wines must be designated with the Terre di Franciacorta DOC.

Preparing for Wine Blogging Wednesday – Part II

Preparing for Wine Blogging Wednesday – Part III

Preparing for Wine Blogging Wednesday – Part IV

Preparing for Wine Blogging Wednesday – Part V

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