Writing from the edge of the Russian River in Sonoma
There’s an old saying in Champagne: ‘A magnum is the perfect size for two people, especially when one of them isn’t drinking.’
In the wine world, it’s widely accepted that wine ages differently in magnum than it does in bottle. ‘The evolution of the wine is slower [in magnum] and the integration of all aromas seems to be more harmonious,’ says Michel Drappier of Champagne Drappier. ‘One definitely recognizes the same wine, same characteristics, but assembled in a more elegant way.’
We recently visited Roederer and had the opportunity to taste the same wines in both formats and confirmed what I always believed that the larger format really makes a difference…
I hope you can find and enjoy my recommendations for sparklers and Champagne!
California sparklers under $25
Most of these will be greatly discounted at Binny’s or Wine Discount in the Chicago and Illinois area as well as most retailers in other cities. Costco has the Roederer Estate for $20.
Korbel Natural 2016 Russian River Valley Sparkling $16. ★★★★ ½
This is a vintage sparkler from Korbel of all places and is delightfully dry, riding on crisp acid unlike their everyday bottles. The blend is 65% pinot noir and 34% chardonnay. Balanced with a nice mousse, this sparkler is an absolute steal for the quality.
Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut, NV Sparkling Wine $22. ★★★★ ½: Weighted to pinot, this sparkler has aromas and flavors of apple, toast and almond.
Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Blanc de Noir NV Sparkling Wine $19. Mostly Pinot Noir and a great food wine. Good with crab, Thai, or roast pork.
Roederer Estate NV Brut Anderson Valley $20 – This is the best bottle of $20 wine you can buy.
Roederer Estate L’Ermitage 2013 Anderson Valley Blanc de Noirs Brut, 12.8%, $60. ★★★★ ½: Exceedingly well crafted. Nutty, yeasty aromas with great minerality and citrus notes on the palate. Pitch perfect balance.
Scharffenberger, NV Brut Excellence, Mendocino County Sparkling Wine $20. ★★★★: We recently visited to find that this often sold brand is now be under the guidance of the Roederer folks and has again gained stability. This is a full-bodied sparkler with fruit-forward flavors, notes of brioche, caramel and hazelnut, solid.
Iron Horse, 2013 Brut X, Green Valley, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Blanc de Noirs, $56. ★★★★ ½: Nice and dry. Rich and creamy with yeasty, nutty aromas, yet light with citrus notes. Just lovely.
Chandon California Brut Sparkling Wine $22 ★★★★ : An easy-going sparkler with notes of green apple and pear. Lightly toasted, with a dry finish. Light and lively.
Champagnes to look for:
Please eat good food, drink great wine with friends and family and enjoy the New Year!
That’s my whine and I could be wrong.
Woody Mosgers, cooks, caters, writes, drinks and matches wine and food in Santa Rosa Sonoma at www.woodythewineguy.com