Before my vacation trip in Spain I wanted to leave you with something useful for the Holidays. In this post you will find commentaries about 18 affordable sparkling wines from the US, France, Italy and Spain, the four largest producers.There are many I would have wanted to include but I restricted myself to ones I could find in the PLCB store and to the mid to low price range. No expensive Champagne in here (my favorite, but I only drink that free of charge in international flights). You will find these wines ordered from highest to lowest rating, but there are some near the bottom that are recommended considering their price.
I hope you enjoy them all and, if you happen to toast with one of the sparkling wines, please toast in the air to Sally (my sparkling adviser) and me.
Gloria Ferrer, Brut, Sonoma
Expensive cork with 2 rings that expanded immediately and was totally dry. Plentiful effervescence with small constant bubbles forming a thick crown.
A fresh lemon aroma overwhelmed the others, but with a bit of attention I could notice white flowers, pear and a hint of quince paste, all enveloped by minerality and a pinch of salt. Pleasant and elegant mouthfeel. Easy to drink. Overall very solid. It was really #1 in this tasting but Moletto was almost as good and half price.
Sally’s go to quality sparking for many years, it is the work of Gloria, daughter of Mr. Ferrer, the owner of Freixenet cava in Catalonia, Spain (the most sold sparkling wine worldwide). I think she is surpassing her father, at least in quality. Women to power!
$17.99 (Center Ave. 12/2/19)
$21.99 (Waterworks 12/1/19)
Notice the difference between the bubbles and the crown between this and the next one.
Also notice the difference in price we got for the two bottles we bought. This is not the first time that I see something like this happen. Do not assume that prices at the store are stable and uniform.
Moletto, Prosecco de Treviso DOC
The cork expanded immediately and looked very dry and fresh. Although the crown was weak, the small size of the bubbles made soft and lovely tickling in my palate.
Sally and I found citrus and a bit of cantaloupe as well as shy hints of candied squash in this one. It lacked the sweetness that most Proseccos have, which was a plus.
The most expensive and best Prosecco is from the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. I could not find any in the store, so that
I resorted to this Treviso.
This denomination surrounds those two small towns and produces the second best Prosecco. The vast majority of what you see in the store is just Prosecco or Prosecco del Veneto, that is produced in a huge region and is, with some exceptions, inferior.
A Treviso for this price was a gift and that induced me to give it an extra point.
$11.99 after a $2 coupon
Cava Brut Reserva 2016
Parellada, Xarel-lo, Macabeo
Traditional Method. Great cork (see picture) and shy crown with medium to small bubbles.
Very interesting aroma of raw almonds and cooked lemon. Mineral. refined, elegant and serious.
Especial. If it wasn’t because of a slight bitterness I would have considered it outstanding.
Gruet Brut, New Mexico
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir
Gruet is a Champagne producer that has established a branch in the US, like Chandon, Piper and Mumm. What makes Gruet special is the location: They are in New Mexico. Yes! New Mexico!
Frankly, the initial impressions made me expect the worse. The cork was shrunk in a strange shape (see picture) and did not have any circular ring of solid cork. No stamp either signaling the use of the Traditional Method. When I poured it, it had very shy bubbles and no crown at the top. However, the aroma was great and contained some nutty notes. In mouth it was clean, refined but dense, and solid. No defects. No bitterness. Just pure nectar. Yummy.
Chandon Brut, CA, US
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Menier
The California venture of Moët Chandon.
A French friend and wine lover, told me that this was the most similar California sparkling to real Champagne he had found. "It could have passed for a real Champagne".
I saw good initial promise with a very good cork, in good condition, and a very nice continuous flow of bubbles forming a thick crown at the top. The aroma was nutty but shy and in mouth it was just non-distinct with a little bit of apple, pear and citrus. . Elegant, with no defects but neither any salient characteristic that would make me excited.
My rating: 89 pts.