Thursday, November 01, 2007

Brooklynguy Stops Being a Hater and Learns to Appreciate "Other" Sparkling Wines

Feel like Champagne every night? I do. Actually, I feel like Champagne most days with lunch too, and I'm not completely adverse to it with breakfast on the weekends. We cannot give in to our every whim though, can we? So instead I'm trying to keep it to a weekly indulgence.

As the dollar continues to suck, this means between $35-40 per week on Champs. That's about 2 thousand dollar a year habit! Harder to swallow, when you put it that way. It's about time that I find some sparkling wines that make me really happy, and that cost between $12-20, like most of the wine we drink on a daily basis.

There are some wines that just don't cooperate in that price range, like Pinot Noir. Very rarely do I find a Pinot in that range that delivers true Pinot pleasure. I suspect that sparkling wine is not as difficult as Pinot - there are many sparklers that can deliver great pleasure. They will not be as deep or as elegant, as powerful or as focused as good Champagne. And Champagne is so much more ---STOP--- it man, we're not talking about Champagne anymore. Just get over it and stick to the point! (~ed.)

Sorry, I just got a little angry at myself.

Okay, back to what I was saying about other sparklers. It's not like I've never enjoyed them before. I have to branch out some more, have a little faith, that's all. Of course I'm going to start in the Loire Valley with this, as there's great sparkling Vouvray and Saumur to be had. I had some a few years ago, before I fell in love with Champagne ---STOP IT--- and I remember liking NV Foreau Vouvray Petillant (petillant means fizzy, mildly sparkling) a whole lot. But that's like $25 now! If I'm not drinking you-know-what then I'm not spending more than 20 smacks either.

So here are two Loire Valley sparklers that I enjoyed lately in the $12-20 price range. They're not as good as Ch@~*^+;, but they certainly have their charms and are worth seeking out if like me, you're in over your head with the "real" stuff.

NV Domaine du Vieux Pressoir Saumur Brut Methode Traditionelle, ($15 Astor Wines). Saumur sparklers tend to be a bit cheaper than their friends from Vouvray. This is only the second one I've tried, and like the first, this one is an excellent value. I was worried when I opened it though because it started off super flinty, flinty and smoky to the exclusion of anything else on the nose. But this balanced out after about 15 minutes, and the wine was really quite nice. Flinty still, but with some green apple and citrus notes, and a nice floral mouth perfume after swallowing. A bruiser of a sparkler, but excellent with food and very high quality in general. A $15 Beauty, I would suggest.

Domaine du Vieux Pressoir makes three sparklers. Their rose, which I believe is what they are better known for, is all Cabernet Franc. This one is a blend of 70/30 Chenin Blanc to Chardonnay.

NV Domaine des Aubuisieres Vouvray Brut, ($20 Astor Wines). I have become a big fan of Mssr. Fouquet's still wine, so why not give the sparkler a shot? This wine was more refined than the Saumur, offering a lighter nose of apple and hints of wet stones and flowers. Quite dry and mineral on the palate too, with ripe fresh fruit. Very nice indeed. Hard to compare to the Saumur because the styles are so different. But if I were forced to say, I'm not sure that the Aubuisieres wine is worth 33% more than the Saumur, as the price demands.

I will not stop here, friends. More Loire Sparklers to come, as well as whatever else I taste in the under $20 price range that merits writing about. Want to help get this Champagne singe off my back? What are your favorite under $20 sparklers?

10 comments:

NickG said...

I've enjoyed the Ampelidae Armance B Brut. It's from the Poitou in the Loire hinterlands. Not as complex as a good grower champagne of course, but it's crisp, with nice apple flavors. Price is around $15.

Brooklynguy said...

hey nickg - thanks for the tip, i will definitely look for it. is this a new york area find or are you somewhere further west? thanks for your comments.

Steve L. said...

Here's a price check--during my stay in Paris I found Vilmart Crand Cellier at 26 Euros, and Rene Geoffroy NV at 21 Euros. Those prices include 20% tax. In other words, if you moved to France you could drink better. Surprise!

Brooklynguy said...

STEVE L is back from France! Welcome back pal. i'm sure that you had an amazing time and tasting lots of interesting wine. with the current exchange rate, the geoffroy is barely cheaper there than it is here. the vilmart is way cheaper though.

Joe said...

Hi Neil, of course you would start in the Loire! I look forward to your journey into Cava, which is probably your most likely hope for inexpensive bubbles (beyond the Loire). You and I once discussed a Codorniu Rose - I liked that one, as well as their Brut Clasico. Never liked the Segura Viudas much, nor the Freixenet. By the way, GWU20 just mentioned a few sparklers you may be interested in.

NickG said...

The Ampelidae Armance is available in Manhattan at Moore Brothers (a subject of a Dr. Vino blogpost a couple of days ago), and at a few stores in NJ, where I live.

Brooklynguy said...

Thanks Joe and Nickg. I have my work cut out for me...

andy said...

Hi Brooklynguy,
I carry the Ampelidae Armance in my shop in Portland Oregon. (Blackbirdwines.com) Also try the same producer's Marigny Neuf's Pinot Noir. Pinots out here are...well expensive. This $12-15 bottle stands up to represent the Pinot quite well, slightly more complex than the younger OP's. Affordable as a daily drinker as well. Moore brothers has this one too!

Brooklynguy said...

hi andy - thanks for this suggestion. I've been surprised at how nice i find the PNs to be from the Loire. I loved the Tue-Bouef stuff this year, for example. I will look for this. thanks again-

Greg said...

You must try Vintage 2000 Louis Bouillot Grand Cru - it's about $23 bucks and terrific. I've been a long time drinker of Ampelidae Armance B (from Moore Bros in South Jersey), but have now found this new treat which is even better. If you want non-vintage, it'll run you about $15/$16.