Tag Archives: Sparkling Wine

Sparkling Wine For The Valentine Wine Event

Sparkling Wine For The Valentine Wine Event

Sparkling Wine For The Valentine! A Sparkling Wine Event With WineGuyMike.
Join WineGuyMike for an evening of fun tasting new Sparkling wines. Delicious dessert appetizers presented by Scratch Catering LLC. Mike will feature dessert appetizers with a flight of 5 incredible Sparkling Wines.

Tonights Sparkling Wine For The Valentine Wine Flight

LOUISE DE GRENELLE CUVÉE IVOIRE

LOUISE DE GRENELLE CUVÉE IVOIRE

LA MASCHERA PROSECCO EXTRA DRY

LA MASCHERA PROSECCO EXTRA DRY

JEAN CHARLES CREMANT BRUT

JEAN CHARLES CREMANT BRUT

GRUET BRUT ROSÉ

GRUET BRUT ROSÉ

GRAN GESTA CAVA BRUT RESERVA

GRAN GESTA CAVA BRUT RESERVA

Don’t miss the best Valentine Event in Missoula!

Sparkling Wine For The Valentine

February 09, 2017 6:30 pm-9:00 pm at Katie O’Keefe’s 2100 Stephens Ave, Missoula, Montana 59801

Tickets for this popular event are $25.00 and will be sold in advance. Space is limited and must be reserved no later than 02/06/2017.  

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From my table to yours,

Prosecco Sparkling Wine

Prosecco is an Italian wine produced in the northern Veneto region of Italy.  This area sits at the foothills of the Italian Alps.  It is typically produced as a dry sparkling wine and is made from grape varietal Glera.

Zonin1821 Black Edition

Zonin1821 Black Edition

Prosecco is mainly produced as a sparkling wine in either the fully sparkling (spumante) or lightly sparkling (frizzante, gentile) styles.  Prosecco spumante undergoes a full secondary fermentation, it is a more expensive style.  Prosecco may also be blended with some Pinot Bianco or Pinot Grigio wine.  Depending on their sweetness, Proseccos are labeled “brut”, “extra dry”, or “dry”, with the brut being the driest.

Prosecco is produced utilizing the Charmat method rather than the traditional Champagne method.  The Charmat method is a second fermentation in pressurized tanks rather than in individual bottles.  The shorter, tank fermentation is preferable for Prosecco because it preserves the freshness and the flavor of the grapes.

Prosecco wines are affordable, aromatic, light, crisp, and refreshing. Think of a yellow apple, pear, white peaches, apricot, and citrus when you drink these wines.

A great summertime wine to enjoy on the patio or deck!

From my table to yours,

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Zonin1821 Dress Code Collection Prosecco

Any time of year is great to enjoy Prosecco but during the heat of summer, it is especially satisfying. I recently had the pleasure of pairing wines with a seven-course dinner for ten. Zonin1821 new Dress Code Collection of Prosecco wines was my choice to get the party started!

Zonin1821 Dress Code Collection

Zonin1821 Dress Code Collection

It was an early summer afternoon and Zonin1821’s Dress Code Collection seemed to be the perfect choice for what turned out to be a special evening of wine and food. Serving wine to guests at gatherings it’s important to consider the nature of the event such as; Formality, season, occasion, and food courses being served.

The evening opened with guests mingling on the porch of a beautiful University area home at which time I popped the first bottle of Dress Code bubbly. Clearly, no one does sexy like the Italians and this new collection of wines does not disappoint. The three bottles of wine from this collection may be the most attractive that I have seen. Gorgeous is what comes to mind and from an aesthetics standpoint, I was pleased to share these with the dinner guests.

The real litmus test though is the taste test and with bubbly poured and glasses in hand all my attention was focused on the eyes and body language of the people now tasting the Zonin1821 Dress Code Edition wines.

Prosecco is produced in the Veneto region of Italy at the foothills of the Italian Alps in northern Italy. Traditionally Zonin1821 produces Prosecco made from 100% Glera the grape varietal of Prosecco.

Wine today is not just Old World or New World but the style of winemaking must also be considered. Is the wine stylistically classic or has it been non-traditionally crafted?

With regard to their new collection of Prosecco wines, Zonin has reached deep down and produced a collection of wine that is very different for their brand. Their new Dress Code Collection of wines still adhere to the rules and laws that allow Prosecco to be blended with up to 15% of other grape varietals. The varietals used for blending are approved in this case by the DOC of the Prosecco wine region.

Zonin1821 typically is as traditional as it gets just as the name indicates this seven generation family owned and winemaking tradition has been producing Prosecco since 1821. The only tradition associated with the Dress Code Collection of wines is quality and distinction.

Continuing to produce traditional Prosecco was not what Zonin1821 had in mind for this Dress Code Collection of White, Grey, and Black. The winemaker obviously was intent on producing a Prosecco that those new to this delightful bubbly would immediately enjoy and those already smitten with Prosecco would stretch their palates also enjoying their favorite wine with a new twist.

Zonin knocked this new collection out of the park, not just on quality and taste but this flight of Prosecco parallels an evening of perfect entertaining. What do I mean by “parallel to an evening of perfect entertaining”?

Prosecco wines are typically simple and refreshing which is exactly why I like to serve them in summer. There is nothing more off-putting than trying to wrap your mind and palate around a heavy and overly complex wine when its 100°F on the deck.

This flight of three Prosecco’s from Zonin starts with their White Edition. The alluring look, feel, and color of these bottles speaks to your wine soul. Intuitively you know exactly which bottle to start, continue, and finish with.

Zonin1821 White Edition  

Zonin1821 White Edition

Zonin1821 White Edition

This first in the flight of three wines is comprised of 91% Glera & 9% Pinot Bianco grape varietals. For me, the Pinot Bianco just cleans this wine up making it invitingly enjoyable and crisp. This is a perfect way to start the evening, and the guests loved this crisp invigorating wine. This White Edition wine grabs your attention letting you know it is a serious contender, no flab here.

This wine exudes subtle notes of floral and fruit but that 9% of Pinot Bianco keeps it in check and sets it apart from another pedestrian Prosecco. This wine will get the party started, the right way.

Zonin1821 Grey Edition

Zonin1821 Grey Edition

Zonin1821 Grey Edition

Somehow you just know this wine is the second in the of flight of three that you are supposed to be tasting, something psychological with the color scheme of bottles from the Zonin1821Dress Code Collection.

This wine is a non-traditional Prosecco blend of 87% Glera & 13% Pinot Grigio. The wine harmoniously eases you into your evening but still manages to keep your full attention, crisp yet so effortlessly smooth.

The Grey Edition Prosecco is not like a wine that has been over manipulated through a malolactic fermentation but is an exemplary reflection of experienced winemaking guiding two grape varietals to a perfect marriage in the bottle.

The Grey Edition offers refreshing elements of green apple and a subtle spice nuance of Ginger, the result is a wine that commands your attention, transcendentally transitioning everyone’s palates in an ever so soothing and smooth manner. Delicious!

Zonin1821 Black Edition

Zonin1821 Black Edition

Zonin1821 Black Edition

The third wine in the flight, the Black Edition, is dressed in scintillating black attire and after imbibing in the White and Grey Dress Code Edition Prosecco’s you are left with an insatiable desire to taste this last charmer from Zonin and believe me it does not disappoint.

The Black Edition Prosecco is a blend of 90% Glera & 10% Pinot Noir, perfectly suited for the progression of the evening. This sparkling Prosecco holds your hand and delivers a depth of character and simple sophistication with every sip. An aroma that delights and a mouthfeel of silky velvet on the palate the Black Edition delivers elegant fruit, floral, and subtle element of comforting spice. This wine was the perfect accompaniment with the amuse-bouche course of dinner.

No matter what you are serving with this flight of Italian wine, Zonin1821Dress Code Collection is a real crowd pleaser. Quality is high and these three wines are very affordable offering true value for any wine lover.

From my table to yours,

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International Lambrusco Day – WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana

This week on Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana I’m talking about Lambrusco. Why you might ask?  Because today, June 21st, is Lambrusco Day in Italy, and Lambrusco is one of the best wines to enjoy with food. Simple, fun, fizzy, refreshing, inexpensive, need I say more?

Lambrusco is one of Italy’s most popular wines. Do you remember one of television’s most famous of tag lines “Riunite on Ice, That’s Nice”? Yes that’s right your Grandma’s Lambrusco, Riunite, is still claiming to be the biggest selling Italian wine in history here in the United States.

Riunite Lambrusco was launched in the late 1960’s and what now seem like cheesy commercials ran on TV in the 70’s.  Cheesy or not that famous tag line is one of the most memorable ever, at least for those of us old enough to remember.  But the truth is this brand enjoyed one of the most well executed marketing campaigns ever.  That was yesterday, today Lambrusco has come of age and I’m here to share it with you.

There is not anything to complicated or technical that we need to know in our approach to buying, chilling, and drinking Lambrusco.  In fact Lambrusco is rather simple and ultimately the secret to a great Lambrusco is one that produces a great head of foam when you pour it, just like a great beer.  Selections will unfortunately be limited on your local shelves unless you live in an area that has a great wine shop.  If you live on the east coast you will have more choices better selections. Wherever you have a concentration of die-hard Italians like me that enjoy Lambrusco retailers will show this sparkling gem from Italy some love.

More and more you will find Lambrusco lovers who are so incredibly passionate about this frizzante wine from the Emilia-Romagna region in the heart of Italy that you just have to give it a try.

The Emilia-Romagna region is located between two of my favorite areas in Italy. Parma which is home to some of my favorite raw cow’s milk cheese Parmigiano-Reggiano, yet another wonder of the world I cannot live without.  On the other side of Emilia is probably one of the most iconic areas of Italy, Modena, and the birth place of Ferrari exotic sports cars.

Italian winemakers produce a large range of Lambrusco wines.  If you shop at a nice specialty shop and they take their wine program seriously it is somewhat safe to assume they have chosen a good selection of wines for you to purchase.  The best Lambrusco’s are going to be dry and made in a frizzante style.  There are three colors of fizzy Lambruscos: white (bianco), rose (rosato) and the classic red (rosso) ranging from sweet to bone dry.

Prosecco is another Italian favorite that is mainly produced as a sparkling wine in either the fully sparkling (spumante) or lightly sparkling (frizzante, gentile) styles.  Proseccos are labeled “brut”, “extra dry”, or “dry”, with the brut being the driest.  Ask you wine steward of the store you shop in for the driest Lambrusco in a frizzante style that they offer for sale.

Lambrusco is made using the Charmat method rather than the Champagne method, the French method of making sparkling wine.  The Charmat method is a second fermentation in pressurized tanks rather than in individual bottles.  The shorter, tank fermentation is preferable for Lambrusco because it preserves the freshness and the flavor of the grapes.

Unlike Champagne, Lambrusco does not ferment in the bottle consequently the wine goes off or gets old quickly and should be drunk as young as possible, preferably within one year.

What I love about Old World European wine is that they are a function of necessity.  The wines in each area are made to work with, match, or pair with the foods that are grown and raised in the region or area.  Lambrusco is no different and in the Emilia-Romagna region their food tends to be rich, salty and that is why Lambrusco works so well with the indigenous foods of the area.

Lambrusco wine is lively and bright with fruit, balanced out with naturally high acidity which pair perfectly with the rich salty food dishes from this area.  Lambrusco like all Old World style wines are not overdone, featuring lower percentage of alcohol which is also conducive to being a great wine to pair with food.

The really terrific thing to note about Lambrusco is that you will be hard pressed to ever find one more expensive than $20.00 and many are $8.00-$10.00.  Wow that works in this economy for my pocket-book.

Many bottles will list the Lambrusco grape variety from which it has been produced.  I’m not going to bore you with the 13-17 different Lambrusco grape varietals because there are only a handful you need to know.  Here is the short list; The most commonly found clones are the Grasparossa, Maestri, Marani, Monstericco, Salamino and Sorbara.  The rabid Lambrusco lovers, they love the Sobara version but any of these are ones that you want.  If you want to dig in a little deeper here is a link from my friends in Italy and their site which is solely devoted to Lambrusco; http://www.lambruscoday.org/facts-or-fiction.html

Here’s what you should expect from a good Lambrusco; fresh, fruity, dry, tannic, nice acid, beautiful fruity nose, frothy, nutty, grapy, jammy, fun, and refreshing.  All this and it’s inexpensive too, really what more could you want?  This is a great wine to try that I whole heartedly recommend with all of my love and passion.  “Mikey likes it”, remember Mikey on TV?  I do if I had a penny for every time I’ve heard this in my life I’d be a wealthy man driving the Ferrari and drinking my dry frizzante Lambrusco on my way to get my fresh sliced hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano to have with my Lambrusco.

LambruscoThis particular Lambrusco is a fantastic example of just how special Lambrusco can be. The Cleto Chiarli E Figli is made from Grasparossa and Sorbara grapes resulting in an intense red Lambrusco with a delightful fruity bouquet.  This Lambrusco is produced in the heart of the best Sorbara Lambrusco region.

My recommendation for the perfect pairing; if you haven’t had the pleasure of Lambrusco and pizza get on the phone now and order the pizza.  This Italian Lambrusco and pizza, well you will think you have died and gone to heaven.  Enough said…

Visit www.WineGuyMike.com to learn more, please subscribe to my blog an newsletter while visiting my site so you get my weekly updates.
From my table to yours,

 

 

Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana – Hedges Family Estate Wines

Join me live for Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana. Wine Time airs bi-monthly on Friday’s during the 5:30PM news cast.  The next feature airs on 08/30/2013.

This week on Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana I’m talking about Hedges Family Estate Wines from the Red Mountain AVA in the Columbia Valley of Washington State.

Visit www.WineGuyMike.comto learn more, please subscribe to my blog an newsletter while visiting my site so you get my weekly updates.

From my table to yours,

Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana – Lambrusco Day

Join me live for Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana. Wine Time airs bi-monthly on Friday’s during the 5:30PM news cast.  The next feature airs on 7/05/2013.

This week on Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana I’m talking about Lambrusco. Why you might ask?  Because today, June 21st, is Lambrusco Day in Italy, and Lambrusco is one of the best wines to enjoy with food. Simple, fun, fizzy, refreshing, inexpensive, need I say more?
Lambrusco is one of Italy’s most popular wines. Do you remember one of television’s most famous of tag lines “Riunite on Ice, That’s Nice”? Yes that’s right your Grandma’s Lambrusco, Riunite, is still claiming to be the biggest selling Italian wine in history here in the United States.

Riunite Lambrusco was launched in the late 1960’s and what now seem like cheesy commercials ran on TV in the 70’s.  Cheesy or not that famous tag line is one of the most memorable ever, at least for those of us old enough to remember.  But the truth is this brand enjoyed one of the most well executed marketing campaigns ever.  That was yesterday, today Lambrusco has come of age and I’m here to share it with you.

There is not anything to complicated or technical that we need to know in our approach to buying, chilling, and drinking Lambrusco.  In fact Lambrusco is rather simple and ultimately the secret to a great Lambrusco is one that produces a great head of foam when you pour it, just like a great beer.  Selections will unfortunately be limited on your local shelves unless you live in an area that has a great wine shop.  If you live on the east coast you will have more choices better selections. Wherever you have a concentration of die-hard Italians like me that enjoy Lambrusco retailers will show this sparkling gem from Italy some love.

More and more you will find Lambrusco lovers who are so incredibly passionate about this frizzante wine from the Emilia-Romagna region in the heart of Italy that you just have to give it a try.

The Emilia-Romagna region is located between two of my favorite areas in Italy. Parma which is home to some of my favorite raw cow’s milk cheese Parmigiano-Reggiano, yet another wonder of the world I cannot live without.  On the other side of Emilia is probably one of the most iconic areas of Italy, Modena, and the birth place of Ferrari exotic sports cars.

Italian winemakers produce a large range of Lambrusco wines.  If you shop at a nice specialty shop and they take their wine program seriously it is somewhat safe to assume they have chosen a good selection of wines for you to purchase.  The best Lambrusco’s are going to be dry and made in a frizzante style.  There are three colors of fizzy Lambruscos: white (bianco), rose (rosato) and the classic red (rosso) ranging from sweet to bone dry.

Prosecco is another Italian favorite that is mainly produced as a sparkling wine in either the fully sparkling (spumante) or lightly sparkling (frizzante, gentile) styles.  Proseccos are labeled “brut”, “extra dry”, or “dry”, with the brut being the driest.  Ask you wine steward of the store you shop in for the driest Lambrusco in a frizzante style that they offer for sale.

Lambrusco is made using the Charmat method rather than the Champagne method, the French method of making sparkling wine.  The Charmat method is a second fermentation in pressurized tanks rather than in individual bottles.  The shorter, tank fermentation is preferable for Lambrusco because it preserves the freshness and the flavor of the grapes.

Unlike Champagne, Lambrusco does not ferment in the bottle consequently the wine goes off or gets old quickly and should be drunk as young as possible, preferably within one year.

What I love about Old World European wine is that they are a function of necessity.  The wines in each area are made to work with, match, or pair with the foods that are grown and raised in the region or area.  Lambrusco is no different and in the Emilia-Romagna region their food tends to be rich, salty and that is why Lambrusco works so well with the indigenousness foods of the area.

Lambrusco wine is lively and bright with fruit, balanced out with naturally high acidity which pair perfectly with the rich salty food dishes from this area.  Lambrusco like all Old World style wines are not overdone, featuring lower percentage of alcohol which is also conducive to being a great wine to pair with food.

The really terrific thing to note about Lambrusco is that you will be hard pressed to ever find one more expensive than $20.00 and many are $8.00-$10.00.  Wow that works in this economy for my pocket-book.

Many bottles will list the Lambrusco grape variety from which it has been produced.  I’m not going to bore you with the 13-17 different Lambrusco grape varietals because there are only a handful you need to know.  Here is the short list; The most commonly found clones are the Grasparossa, Maestri, Marani, Monstericco, Salamino and Sorbara.  The rabid Lambrusco lovers, they love the Sobara version but any of these are ones that you want.  If you want to dig in a little deeper here is a link from my friends in Italy and their site which is solely devoted to Lambrusco; http://www.lambruscoday.org/facts-or-fiction.html

Here’s what you should expect from a good Lambrusco; fresh, fruity, dry, tannic, nice acid, beautiful fruity nose, frothy, nutty, grapy, jammy, fun, and refreshing.  All this and it’s inexpensive too, really what more could you want?  This is a great wine to try that I whole heartedly recommend with all of my love and passion.  “Mikey likes it”, remember Mikey on TV?  I do if I had a penny for every time I’ve heard this in my life I’d be a wealthy man driving the Ferrari and drinking my dry frizzante Lambrusco on my way to get my fresh sliced hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano to have with my Lambrusco.

Drei Dona Reggiano Lambrusco

This Lambrusco was fantastic with my dinner, and again it was so nice that the alcohol level was restrained. The Rosenere immediately shows beautifully in the glass, deep purple color and sporting a perfect frothy head. Remember this is what a good Lambrusco should have and even as this wine sits in between sips and you give it a swirl the nice frothy head returns immediately.

The nose on this beauty is equally as pleasing with notes of grape, raspberry, strawberry, and a little cherry. On the palate this wine is so tasty with nicely balanced fruit, acid, and tannin. The Rosenere Lambrusco is like an extra-dry Prosecco which means it is semi-dry and is slightly sweet. The sweetness is appropriate and not annoying in any way.  It just feels right in your mouth, and it is.  The finish leaves you with a delightful lingering memory of refreshing fruit.

This is a very nice Lambrusco that I can recommend for you and the nice part is that it retails for $8.00 at one of my favorite wine retailers.

Visit www.WineGuyMike.com to learn more, please subscribe to my blog an newsletter while visiting my site so you get my weekly updates.
From my table to yours,

 

 

Champagne and Sparkling Wines, “All You Need To Know”

 

This week WineGuyMike™ writes all about all things bubbly for your New Year Celebration and understanding the differences between Champagne, Sparkling Wine, Cava, Prosecco, and Spumante.  In this post, I am also suggesting sparkling wines in a variety of price ranges that offer the consumer value.

What is the difference between Champagne and Sparkling wine?  Sparkling wines and champagne are still wines that have been infused with carbonation. True Champagne is made in France will be noted by the capital letter “C” on the label.  Other sparkling wines called Champagne will be designated as “champagne”, notice no capitalization. Three grapes are used in Champagne, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay.  It’s white because only the juice of the grapes is used.

The four methods of Sparkling wine production:

1. Carbon Dioxide Injection – soft drinks and inexpensive sparkling wines are produced using this method.  It produces large bubbles that dissipate quickly.

2. Charmat Process – wine undergoes a second fermentation in large bulk tanks and is bottled under pressure.  Prosecco and Asti are produced utilizing this method, smaller longer lasting bubbles result from this method.  Many Sparkling wines are made using this method.

3. Méthode Champenoise – this process takes place in the bottle and requires hands on attention.  During the second fermentation, the carbon dioxide stays in the bottle and this is where the bubbles come from.

4. Transfer Method – the cuvee is bottled for the second fermentation which adds complexity.  But the wine is then removed and stored in large tanks after it has spent the appropriate amount of time on yeast.

Champagne:

The Champagne region of France not only produces some of the finest sparkling wines in the world but some of the finest wines in the world too.  Typically there are three grapes used in the blend for sparkling wines; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.  Different vintages are used to create the blend or better known as the “Cuvee”.

Champagne is expensive due to the traditional method of how it is made, Methode Champenoise and techniques known as second fermentation.  This process takes place in the bottle and requires hands-on attention.

Pink Champagne or sparkling Rose is strained through the Pinot Noir grape skins, truly a delight.  Methode Champenoise is the true French fermentation process.  The wine is fermented twice, once in an oak barrel, and the second time the wine develops carbonation in the bottle while aging a minimum of one year.

Blanc de Blancs is true French Champagne, it is produced entirely from the Chardonnay grape.  Blanc de Blancs fermented using the Methode Champenoise process, producing white Champagne.

Designations of quality:

Prestige Cuvee

This Champagne is the highest priced and is available only in small quantities.  It is designated “Prestige” because the grapes come from the best grapes from the highest rated villages, it is made from the first pressing of the grapes, produced only as a vintage, and will have been aged longer than vintage and non-vintage Champagnes.

Vintage Champagne

Some select years produce an outstanding grape harvest.  The Vintage Champagnes are aged for at least three years.  Here is an example of a few companies who produce these Vintage Champagnes; Veuve Clicquot, Perrier-Jouet, Moet & Chandon, and Taittinger.

Remember a Vintage Champagne will be identified by an actual year marked on the label, but expect to pay a premium for this.

Non-Vintage Champagne

The majority of Sparkling wine on the shelf of a store is non-vintage.  These are a blend of wines aged for two years.

How to Select your Champagne:

■Brut is Dry

■Extra Dry is Semidry

■Sec is Semisweet

■Demi-sec is Sweet

Quality Champagne Cellars:

Ayala, Billecart-Salmon, J. Bollinger, Canard-Duchene, Deutz, Charles Heidsieck, Heid Sieck Monopole, Henriot, Krug, Lanson, Laurent Perrier, Mercier, Moet & Chandon, Mumm Perrier-Jouet, Joseph Perrier, Piper Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Pommery, Louis Roederer, Ruinart, Salmon, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot

All things are not at equal when it comes to sparkling wines and Champagne.  So what makes all of these types of sparkling wines different?  The answer is how they are made, the type of grapes, and the yeasts that are used in fermentation and left behind in the bottle to age with the sparkling wines.

There are 2-3 elements of wine that create aroma and flavor.  The first element is the fruit, and the second is the yeast used to ferment the wine.  Fruit and yeast combine during fermentation to produce aroma and flavor or sense of taste.  The third influence upon the wine in your glass may be from an oak influence during the wines aging process.

Other sparkling Wine Regions:

Loire Valley of France produces Crémant, while the Asti region of Italy produces Asti Spumanti, and Prosecco comes from the Veneto region.  The Catalonia region of Spain produces the world’s most popular sparkling wine, Cava.  Quality sparkling wines made in Italy are made by the Metodo Classico process or what the French refer to as Methode Champenoise.

Prosecco is an Italian wine, generally a dry sparkling wine, usually made from grape variety Glera, which is also known as Prosecco.  The Veneto region of Italy is where Glera/ Prosecco is grown and produced.

Prosecco is mainly produced as a sparkling wine in either the fully sparkling (spumante) or lightly sparkling (frizzante, gentile) styles.  Prosecco spumante, which has undergone a full secondary fermentation, is the more expensive style.  The various sparkling wines may contain some Pinot Bianco or Pinot Grigio wine.  Depending on their sweetness, Proseccos are labeled “brut”, “extra dry”, or “dry”, with the brut being the driest.

Unlike Champagne, Prosecco does not ferment in the bottle consequently the wine goes off or gets old quickly and should be drunk as young as possible, preferably within one year.

Prosecco is Italy’s answer to refreshing, well-made, sparkling wine that is low in alcohol, about 11 to 12 percent by volume.  Created from predominately Prosecco grapes in the northern Veneto region of Italy in the foothills of the Alps.  Prosecco is light, affordable, and fun.  This Sparkling wine is aromatic and crisp, with nuances of yellow apple, citrus, pear, white peach, and apricot.  Today’s Proseccos tend to be dry and very bubbly and typically will present itself as light, fresh, with an initial intense bouquet/aroma, but simple and straightforward compared to Champagne.

Prosecco is made using the Charmat method rather than the Champagne method, the French method of making sparkling wine.  The Charmat method is a second fermentation in pressurized tanks rather than in individual bottles.  The shorter, tank fermentation is preferable for Prosecco because it preserves the freshness and the flavor of the grapes.

Asti Spumante is a sweet sparkling wine.  It is produced in the province of Asti and made from the Moscato grape.  Spumante is a fruit forward sparkling wine that is grapy, and has a low alcohol content usually around 8%.  Moscato d’Asti is a sparkling wine that is frizzante in style and for my palette I find these wines to be more refined than the Asti Spumante.

Cava originated in the Catalonia region at the in the late 19th century.  Originally the wine was known as Champaña until Spanish producers officially adopted the term “Cava” (cellar) in 1970.  Cava wines are fermented and aged in the bottle in underground cellars.   Today 95% of Spain’s total Cava production is from Catalonia.

Cava is produced in different styles ranging from dry to sweet; Brut Nature, Brut (extra dry), Seco (dry), Semiseco (medium) and Dulce (sweet).  Under Spanish Denominación de Origen laws, Cava can be produced in six wine regions and must be made according to the Traditional Method with second fermentation in the bottle.  The grapes used to produce Cava are Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel·lo, Chardonnay, Pinot noir, and Malvasia.  The Chardonnay grape is a latecomer to the scene despite being a traditional grape used to produce Champagne.  It was not introduced in the production of Cava until the 1980s.

In order for the wines to be called ‘Cava’, they must be made in the traditional Méthode Champenoise.  Wines made via the low-cost Charmat process may only be called ‘Spanish sparkling wine’.   A rosé style of Cava is also produced by adding in small amounts of red wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha or Monastrell to the wine.

Cava made by the Champagne method is a very acceptable alternative to French champagne.  Cava is usually made by the Coupage method, whereby must, a.k.a.(grape juice) from different grape varieties are subjected to the first fermentation which is blended until it is consistent with the wine that the winemaker wants to produce.  After the Coupage, the wine is put into bottles and yeast and sugar added.  It is then cellared for the second fermentation and aging.

Crémant is produced in the Loire Valley of France and is the largest producer of sparkling wines outside of the Champagne region.  Crémant has to be aged for at least one year and it is handpicked.  The producers are also limited as to how much can be harvested, this all according to the French A.O.C.

There are seven French appellations that carry the Crémant designation in their name:

1.Crémant d’Alsace

2.Crémant de Bordeaux

3.Crémant de Bourgogne

4.Crémant de Die

5.Crémant du Jura

6.Crémant de Limoux

7.Crémant de Loire

Crémant de Loire’s are a blend of the Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Cabernet Franc.  In Burgundy, Crémant de Bourgogne must be composed of at least thirty percent Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris while Aligoté is often used to complement the blend.  The Languedoc region in the south of France produces Crémant de Limoux.  This Sparkling wine is produced from the indigenous grape Mauzac, with Chenin blanc, and Chardonnay rounding out the wine in small amounts.

The Crémant Sparkling Wines are pressurized less than Champagne and therefore have a larger looser bubble as a result.

California Sparkling Wines:

Sparkling wines from California use a few grape varietals such as Berger and Chenin Blanc to blend with the traditional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.

Producers to look for in California; Hacienda, Domain Laurier, Roederer Estate, Domaine Carneros, Domaine Chandon, Codorniu-Napa, Iron Horse, Jordan, Mumm-Cuvee Napa, and Schramsberg.

Remember the name “Champagne” can only be used in Europe on bottles that actually are produced in the Champagne region of France.

As a consumer, you now are empowered by the information WineGuyMike™ has shared with you.  I would like to wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.

From my table to yours,