So Many Ways to Sparkle

Now’s the time to purchase Sparkling Wines and Champagne for the holiday season. Whether you drink Champagne or not, you’re sure to host friends or guests who want to drink sparkling; so it’s a good idea to keep some on hand. Purchasing for yourself or for a gift? Rest assured a gift of sparkling wine will be appreciated during the holidays.

When it comes to gifts, there are several options. Remembering the true Christmas spirit when Wise Men (surely Wise Women too) brought gifts to lay before the King, this is a great time to help your holiday host by bringing high quality sparkling wines at whatever price level to help him or her with their holiday entertaining. Allow me to help you understand your sparkling wine options a bit more. If you already know, please be patient and comment if you think I’ve done a good job or if you believe I missed something.

Let’s start with the ultimate expression of sparkling wine that we call, Champagne, and understand why we call it Champagne.
Champagne, which is the “benchmark” expression of sparkling wine, meaning the model that novices (and many experts) aspire to emulate, was created by innovators who were experimenting and ultimately came up with a wine that is legendarily dubbed “Champagne.” That particular innovation has been copied by people around the world. It’s called the Methode Champenoise or the Methode Traditionelle Champagne was such a sparkling discovery in its day. That’s probably why everyone wants to still call their sparkling wine Champagne. Maybe it’s something like why people want to call their generic tissues “Kleenex” when they’re crying. Not really from the same place, but if it you get the same sensory experience, who really cares?

All of the sparkling wines from the Boisset Collection are made in either the Methode Traditionelle or the Methode Champenoise, so they all have that universally sophisticated French impression on the palate.

1.Do you know about Cremant de Bourgogne?
Cremant de Bourgogne wines are usually some of the best value sparkling wines from the Burgundy region of France. Grapes for these wines are primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Perle Noire is a good example of a sparkling wine in the Boisset Collection that drinks like a Champagne. Made from the Pinot Noir grape in the Cremant method, this is a very good “party” Champagne to serve when you have a fairly large group to serve or when you just want to pop open a bottle for dinner without thinking too much about it.

2.California bubbly made from California grapes
Our California sparkling wines are made in the Methode Champenoise, with the same grapes and in the same method as Champagne from the northeast region of France, although the use of the name “Champagne” is legally off-limits to those outside of the region, with the exception of some who have found a few loopholes to this legislation. You can look at this somewhat like a patent or brand that gives a particular product the license to charge a premium price, even though a generic or other brand may be just as good for less. A couple of examples of great California sparklers are the Legend Vineyard Exclusive Sparkling Brut, a delightful bubbly that has a slightly fruitier impression on the palate than your typical French Champagne, yet still has the weight and long-lasting bubbles of a superior quality sparkling wine. This slightly higher sugar dosage also makes these wines very food friendly, especially with medium-to-bold seasonings.
Similarly, the JCB No. 24 (also available by the case as part of the custom label program), drinks like an elegant Champagne, opening with notes of brioche, meyer lemon and hints of vanilla. These bottles are also great for landmark occasions like mid-century birthdays, anniversaries, openings etc, because they can be customized with an image of your choice.

3.Last, but not least, there’s the real deal Champagne
For those who must have the word “Champagne” on the label of the bottles they pour, there are a couple of great ones in our collection, starting with the Gala Rosé Brut, and ending with La Victoire, from Buena Vista Vineyards, California’s oldest winery, founded by Agoston Haraszthy, father to six children. Agoston’s third son, Arpad, spent over two years in France learning the craft of sparkling wine and later became the first to introduce Methode Traditionelle sparkling wine into California winemaking.

One of the main reasons Champagne and other sparkling wines made in the Methode Champenoise have a more powerful and long-lasting bead than Prosecco and some other lighter wines that have not been through this method is that in the Champagne Method process, both the primary and secondary fermentation happen inside the bottle, leading to more naturally built-up pressure, which ultimately expresses itself as more character and longevity in the glass. Of course the grapes matter as well. Authentic Champagne can only be made from 3 grapes, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier – the percentage and combination are up to the winemaker. Champagnes made from 100% Chardonnay are labeled “Blanc de Blancs;” those made from 100% Pinot Noir are labeled “Blanc de Noirs;” and blends are typically labeled “Brut.”

Now is also a good time to replenish your Champagne flutes, you know, the ones that were broken at last year’s New Year’s Eve celebration…

Happy Holidays AND Happy Sipping Everyone! Cheers!