26-01-2017

All the bubbly fit to drink

The clouds part when the middle of January presents itself. This is of course only in the figurative sense as literally, the weather is quite squalid, but this moment of clarity is due to reaching the end of the “bubbly season”. Do note that this season runs in tandem with regular wine drinking season (which is year-round) so it’s an additional (yet often delicious) duty to take on.

In Spain the holidays run over two weeks, starting with what is Christmas in the US around December 24/25th and ending with January 6th, Three Kings. Trust me, there is much quaffing by parents when the kids tear in to their gifts. Others will have had a great deal more than myself but I sorta save up various bottles over the years to then pull them out with the family and friends and celebrate the year that has been in sparkling form. Given this and memory potentially failing, these were the sparklings had over this period.

  • Armenian Wines Takar Extra Brut 2014
  • Segura Viudas Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2010
  • Castellroig Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2008
  • Moët & Chandon Imperial Rosé Brut NV
  • Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut NV
  • Laurent Perrier Brut NV
  • Nyetimber Cuvée Classic Brut 2010
  • Alta Alella Cava Privat Mirgin Brut Nature 2011
  • Gramona Argent Gran Reserva Brut 2011

The Takar was an interesting wine as I often don’t find Charmat method wines (think Prosecco) terribly interesting but this was a miraculous surprise when I tasted it while in Armenia. It proved to be a wildly-popular crowd-pleaser as well. I’m not sure what magic they’re doing with it although it could just be that the hybrid grape, Kangun, is the ultimate sparkling wine grape to be found. And for 8€, I want to stock up on several cases as soon as I can.

The Segura Viudas and Castellroig were different yet similar. Both are from Cava’s Gran Reserva classification which means a minimum of 30 months of aging on the lees, thus pulling out and extolling the great depths of aromas and flavors capable in Cava but which are rarely experienced due to people going for the cheap, sub-5€ options. The Castellroig I remembered as being a fine wine but I was quite surprised by the Segura Viudas as their still wines, while good for the price, don’t do too much to inspire me. But this Cava was quite refined. I would most likely prefer the Castellroig but when taking in to account the prices (it’s 17€, the Segura Viudas a very unfathomable 9€) you really can’t go wrong and it furthers the question of why on earth anyone would by thse cheap bottles when excellence is so close at hand?

This is especially important when taking in to account the three Frenchies up there from Moët & Chandon and Laurent Perrier. These were all the result of New Year’s Eve and aren’t wines that I regularly seek out. Many people still have it etched in their minds that you must toast in NYE with Champagne despite the fact you’re not getting your money’s worth. All of these wines start at 30€ a bottle and do not in any way outshine anything I’ve mentioned to date. In fact, they’re like roasted duck with prunes. That’s a reliable dish that can be served in fancy settings, but in no way will it ever wow people. I’ve really gotten to the point with Champagne that unless spending upwards of 100€ a bottle, I feel I’m not going to get anything special and these three bottles of very popular wines showed this without question and are part of the reason for my Champagne wine predictions.

I had been hanging on to the bottle of Nyetimber for some time. That wine is great to toss at people used to drinking Champagne or Cava to show them that yes, the British are producing a very proper wine these days. It’s not cheap at around 30£ or so but I feel that with its blue fruit and heath notes, it’s a demonstrably better wine than a Champagne of the same price. This same meal saw the Alta Alella and Gramona wines opened as well just for kicks as the Mirgin is a lovely wine, although completely different from other wines in Cava. This undoubtedly has much to do with the winery and vines being on the sea at Alella than down in Penedès. The Gramona was unfortunately a bit corked (yeah, it can indeed happen to sparkling wines) and I’ve had it shine more in past tastings.

Emerging from the bubbly season is great as it presents the new challenge of rounding up bottles for the next go round. My hardcore, red wine drinking past self would look at my current self and wonder where things suddenly veered strangely, enjoying sparkling wine so much. To this past self I would just say that things veered very much rightly and as they should.