Four sparking wines that say ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’
Wine consumption in the United States declined slightly in 2019 for the first time in 25 years. Two categories, however, showed increased sales: sparkling wine and rose`.
Americans love their bubblies and for good reason. We party. We celebrate. We romance. And we spend money on premium sparkling wines.
Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) offers the biggest-selling sales draw for clean, crisp, tasty sparklers at restaurants and retail stores. While the choices are numerous, here are four that tell a good story in addition to delivering elegance and quality at different price points. (Note: The general impressions of a tasting panel – five men, three women – who attended a sparking wine dinner at my home are reflected below.)
Gloria Ferrer Anniversary Cuvee 2011 ($45) – This Sonoma winery is among California’s most outstanding sparkling wine houses, earning over 500 Gold Medals in its illustrious history. The limited edition “Anniversary” series is marketed as a beverage for celebrations, yet tasters said this fresh, frothy, mouthwatering wine would be a joy to drink any day of the week. Estate-grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes make up the vintage blend, which is aged five years in bottle. Persistent ripe fruit – apple, lemon, grapefruit – elevates a long, dry, satisfying finish. Bottle appeal: A classy black-and-gold label accents a green-tinted bottle.
Segura Viudas Reserva Heradad ($30) – What’s not to love about Spanish Cava? This cuvee of three Spanish white grapes – Xarel-lo, Macabeo, Parellada – sets a Mediterranean mood of sultry breezes, scintillating sunsets and cheek-to-cheek dancing. Made in traditional Champagne style – two fermentations, the second in bottle – Segura Viudas has plenty of bubbly pop, distinctive citrus notes, and a crisp Brut finish. Bottle appeal: It’s regal and heavy (4 pounds). A steel replica of Le Heradad’s 11th-century crest is the centerpiece while an engraved steel nameplate rims the bottom.
Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose` ($99) – The Champagne House of Laurent-Perrier, founded in 1812, almost went bankrupt during the ravages of WWII. Owner Marie Louise Lanson de Nonancourt, who lost her oldest son in a German concentration camp, mortgaged 1,000 cases hidden in a wall to survive. God bless her courage. Today, Laurent-Perrier is the world’s No. 3 best-selling Champagne brand, and nothing could be rosier than its Cuvee Rose`. First made in 1968, this 100% Pinot Noir performs brilliantly at every quality level. Strawberry-orange traits abound. Tiny, explosive beads fuel a creamy mousse. A toasty note comes on the dry finish. Tasters put this high on their holiday list, saying its overall finesse merited a special occasion. Bottle appeal: The oblong shape of a cognac bottle is a bit understated for Champagne.
Beau Joie Brut Champagne ($99) – The House of Bertrand Senecourt in Epernay (France) produces this intriguing newcomer that has become the fashionable sparkler of the NHL’s Las Vegas Knights. The connection? The brand is the brainchild of Jon and Brandis Deitelbaum, co-founders of Las Vegas-based Toast Spirits LLC. Let’s get to the “bottle appeal” first: Beau Joie is packaged in an eye-catching, 100 percent recycled copper wrapping that, according to the owners, keeps the Champagne chilled without an ice bucket. I tried it and, surprisingly, Beau Joie retains its open-air chill far longer than a glass bottle does. Brandis Deitelbaum’s design was inspired by body armor worn by medieval French knights who protected the kingdom. So if the prince or princess in your life likes a good, romantic yarn, here’s the bottle to get their ear and maybe more. The Champagne is substantial too. One taster deemed it a “real participant” on the senses: straw yellow color, intense green apple-lemon aromas, and crisp, citrusy and spice flavors. Another said Beau Joie melted in her mouth “like a freshly baked, buttery croissant.”
Read more about wine on Jim Campanini’s blog at www.grapefullyyours.live.