trends in taste | notable vintages


California Bruts ADD SPARKLE TO YOUR LIFE

By GINO FILIPPI

POP THE CORK on some Brut sparkling wines from the vineyards of California, considered by many to be the world’s most versatile wines.

It’s not necessary to spend hundreds of dollars for famous champagnes such as Cristal, Don Perignon, Krug, Taittinger or Bollinger (a favorite of the queen of England). Here’s the juice on sparklers that are both attractive and affordable:

Chandon Brut Classic
California

Domaine Chandon’s Brut Classic presents full flavors that move seamlessly across the palate. 43 percent Chardonnay provides front palate creaminess and contributes a firm structure and vibrancy, while 4 percent Pinot Meunier and 2 percent Pinot Blanc add mid-palate dimension with hints of cherry cream. 51 percent Pinot Noir, which forms the majority of the cuvée, gives the wine length, persistence and a lingering flavor.

This wine offers the balance and elegance that has become Chandon’s hallmark style. Look for nutty flavors with hints of brioche that build to a refreshing dry finish.

Brut Classic will refresh your palate when eating salty, creamy or nutty foods including Caesar salad, caramelized onions, mussels, clams, raw oysters and caviar.

$15-$22, at Beverages & More and other fine retailers

Roederer Estate
Anderson Valley

Produced by the same French family that brings us Roederer “Cristal,” this high-profile Veuve Clicquot-esque sparkler was produced from estate-grown grapes in Anderson Valley (Mendocino County).

Crisp and elegant with complex pear, spice and hazelnut flavors, it is fresh and lightly fruity with great finesse and depth of flavor. Pairs nicely with chicken and seafood dishes in spicy or cream sauces. It’s a delicious jewel that novice and experts appreciate for its high quality and affordability.

If you buy Korbel, this wine is a big step up for a little more money.

$17-$21, at Pacific Wine Merchants in Upland and other fine retailers

2004 Domaine Carneros
Founded in 1987 by Champagne Taittinger, Domaine Carneros Estate is located in Carneros, a cool climate premier American appellation contrôlée wine-growing region, between the Napa and Sonoma valleys. An ideal location atop a hill amidst the vineyards, its beautiful estate and tasting room offers the perfect ambience for sipping these fine nectars of the vine.

Vintage dated each year, Domaine Carneros Brut Cuvée represents the best of Carneros Pinot Noir and Chardonnay made into a classic sparkling wine.

Enjoy with a wide range of appetizers and entrees including baked brie with dried fruit in puff pastry, artichoke crostini, grilled prawns with mango and avocado salsa, crab stuffed filet of sole.

$20-$25, at Liquorama in Upland and other fine retailers

Ruby Cuvée,
South Coast Winery

Master winemaster Jon McPherson has produced premium sparkling wines in Southern California for more than 23 years. At South Coast Winery, McPherson and winemaker Javier Flores have released several gold-medal winners, including Ruby Cuvée. This tasty offering was produced from the red and flavorful Syrah, grown in the Temecula Springs Estate vineyard, surrounding the beautiful new winery.

Ruby Cuvée is all about bringing out the berry-fruit character of Syrah. Deep ruby-red in color, with delicate lavender edges and an aroma that is brimming with nuances of strawberries, raspberries and sweet chocolate. Finished as an Extra Dry, it is lush and fruity, yet balanced with a crisp acidity. Pairs well with spicy appetizers and entrees.

This unique sparkler is as pleasing to the palate as its artful art deco label is to the eye.

$24. Visit www.southcoastwinery.com for order information or call (951) 587-9463.

Gino's top picks from France and Italy
due to a high concentration of Chardonnay grapes. Orange-yellow rose petal pink in color, the nose is characterized by small red berries (mainly currant). On the palate, the wine is vigorous and well balanced. Crisp, fresh and fruity, well-integrated tannins, and a hint of spice on the lengthy finish. The blend is 45 percent Premiers Crus Chardonnay and 55 percent Premiers Crus Pinot Noir from the best of recent vintages. Serve as an aperitif including shrimp scampi followed by seafood or veal entree.

$60-$65, at my friend Dana Chandler’s in Upland and fine wine retailers.

Runiart Blanc de Blancs France
Ruinart Blanc de Blancs exhibits a luminous, golden yellow color that in the correct light appears to almost glow. The nose is clean and intense with warm, rich notes of bread dough. On the palate the wine is supple and fresh, with notes of honey and minerals on a long, balanced finish. Produced from a blend of 100 percent Premiers Crus Chardonnay, from the best of recent vintages. Try with a delicate seafood entrée such as grilled sole or grilled lobster.

$60-$75, at Wine Club in Santa Ana and other fine retailers, www.ruinart.com.

Ruinart Rosé France
This wine is delicious. It’s a fine and elegant champagne with the distinctive Ruinart taste, due to a high concentration of Chardonnay grapes. Orange-yellow rose petal pink in color, the nose is characterized by small red berries (mainly currant). On the palate, the wine is vigorous and well balanced. Crisp, fresh and fruity, well-integrated tannins, and a hint of spice on the lengthy finish. The blend is 45 percent Premiers Crus Chardonnay and 55 percent Premiers Crus Pinot Noir from the best of recent vintages. Serve as an aperitif including shrimp scampi followed by seafood or veal entree.

$60-$65, at my friend Dana Chandler’s in Upland and fine wine retailers.

Mionetto Mo ‘Sergio’
Prosecco Italy

This is perhaps the most significant of all the Italian-produced sparkling wines. Dry, lemony and bubbling, it is produced from predominately Prosecco grapes in the northern Veneto region of Italy. This is a brut-styled Prosecco that delivers more structure than most. Tiny bubbles encase a firm core of hard fruit notes. This Italian sparkling wine has nice fruit on the mid-palate and a dry, wafer clean finish.

$19-$22, at fine wine retailers

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