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SPARKLING WINES

August 7, 2000 • Massachusetts Mutual Conference Room

Although not a requisite for membership, it seems that all PfW members enjoy sparkling wines. In deciding the theme of this tasting, other than requiring natural bubbles (no carbonated wines), it was left open. The mix of wines from France, California, and Australia made for an interesting, shall we say "lively," tasting. Four of the wines have a very good Quality to Price Ratio and earned "Best Buy" honors. The seeming inconsistency in judging the two bottles of Gloria Ferrer "Royal Cuvée" may well have been the bottles themselves, given the number of steps in Methode Champenoise and therefore the possibilities for variation. Our accompaniment of fresh fruit, fresh bread, and rich cheeses, while very tasty, had the unfortunate tendency to accentuate bitterness in the wines.

Brand
Vintage & Varietal/Type
Appellation -$ price
Consensus Tasting Notes
Notes in bold type indicate three
or more comments in agreement.
#Rank
Buying Advice

J
1995 Brut
Sonoma County -$25.

Pale green; very light aroma shows apple, lime, custard, roasted marshmallow, lees, toast; creamy and persistent mousse; very light flavors are dry and fresh with green apple, citrus, dried grass notes; very harmonious balance, slightly tart; medium-long finish is faintly bitter. (NOTE: This same wine finished mid-pack at our last tasting.)

#1
Very Highly
Recommended

Gloria Ferrer
1992 "Royal Cuvée" Brut
Carneros -$17.

Very pale; aroma suggests Chardonnay, mixes apples, peaches, toast, coffee, caramel, faint must; foamy, big, rapid mousse, gentle, round mid-palate; dry, light flavors suggest mineral and citrus; balanced; medium long, faintly bitter finish.

#2
Very Highly
Recommended

Piper-Sonoma
(nv) Blanc de Noir
Sonoma -$13.

Pale strawberry; sweet, attractive apple blossom, citrussy, yeasty, marshmallow, and slightly fruity aroma; fairly expansive mousse with a creamy mouthfeel; light, dry, pleasant, appley, citrussy flavors with a hint of anise; somewhat tart; faintly bitter, medium-long finish.

#3
Very Highly
Recommended
BEST BUY

Veuve Clicquot
(nv) Brut Champagne
(yellow label) Epernay -$38.

Pale straw; very light, fruity, yeasty, biscuit dough, toasty aroma, with faint musty, cardboard-filter pad hints; persistent and tiny bubbles; vanilla and bread flavors are very dry; very balanced, slightly tart; long finish with a slight mustiness. (NOTE: A longtime favorite of many in the group, this seemed like an "off" bottle, but not specifically "corked.")

#4
Highly
Recommended

Indigo Hills
(nv) Blanc de Blanc
Mendocino -$11.

Pale yellow; complex, somewhat heavy aroma mixes baked apple pie, yeast, toast, chocolate, and nuts with a hint of fusel and mustiness; slightly expansive mousse, round; dry, nutty, slightly woody flavors; austere, slightly tart balance; long, slightly bitter finish.

#5
Highly
Recommended
BEST BUY

Hacienda
(nv) Brut
California -$6.

Pale straw; pleasant, sweet apple blossom, mineral, citrus, and pear aromas with a hint of fusel; nice mouthfeel, not very expansive, somewhat fleeting; light flavor is slightly vegetal, unripe, medicinal, cardboard; faintly bitter, aspirin finish.

#6
Recommended
(although controversial)
BEST BUY

Seaview
1998 Brut
Southeastern Australia -$10.

Light yellow-gold; complex, mature, yeasty, toasty aromas with ripe, tropical fruit and notes of honey and caramel; very lively bubbles; rich, full, mature, faintly oxidized flavors; flabby balance is slightly sweet; medium-long finish.

#7
Recommended
(although stylistically
controversial)
BEST BUY

Gloria Ferrer
1992 "Royal Cuvée" Brut
Carneros -$17.

Pale straw; sweet lemon-lime and apple aroma; foamy, big, rapid mousse, slightly rich; sweet, appley, simple flavors; tart balance; long finish is faintly bitter. Neither as complex, nor as flavorful as wine #2, although similar in mouthfeel.

#8
Recommended

Nicolas Feuillante
(nv) Brut Champagne
Epernay, France -$33.

Pale yellow; very light, sweet, appley, floral, Riesling-like, perfumey, minerally aromas; medium mousse, somewhat creamy; dry, simple, light, citric, and green apple flavors with a hint of oxidation; good balance, slightly soft, flat; clean, crisp, medium-long finish.

#9
Recommended

Gloria Ferrer
1990 "Carneros Cuvée" Brut
Sonoma -$24.

Pale straw; aromas are stale, stinky, dank, and bothersome with green bean, barnyard, oxidized, and cardboard-filter pad elements; expansive, medium mousse; dry, complex, toasty, musty, older flavors; quite tart, almost sour; stemmy, faintly bitter, long finish. (NOTE: "Late Disgorged" in 1998)

#10
Not
Recommended

This Panel included Regulars Mark, Deanna, Glenn, Roy,
Marlene, Jon, Ray, Jim, Greg, and James

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