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10.31.2013

Vinography Unboxed: Week of October 27, 2013

box_o_wine.jpgHello from the bottom of the samples pile. This is the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles of sample wine that have crossed my doorstep recently.

This week is the Sparkling Wine edition of Unboxed. Tasting sparkling wine is something best done in large quantities and all at once, right? So this week I popped the cork on a lot of the sparkling samples that I had sitting in a corner, and here's what I thought.

The stars of the domestic set were certainly, and predictably a couple of the Schramsberg bottlings. All three of their primary wines, the Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, and Rosé are excellent.

Another stalwart producer, Iron Horse, had some entries this week, my favorite being their Wedding Cuvee, a very pale rosé that is quite delightful.

Speaking of stalwart producers, Villa Sandi shows up with some solid Proseccos from Italy, and Raventos i blanc offers some Cava from Spain that are quite good as well.

Pop a cork and let's go!

NV Domaine Chandon "Etoile Brut" Champagne Blend, North Coast, California
Light greenish gold in the glass with moderately fine bubbles, this wine smells of toasted sourdough, brewers yeast, and baked apples. In the mouth, flavors of buttered biscuit and asian pear are shot through with the strong signature of new oak. Savory, salty, buttery etoile_brut.jpgnotes linger in the finish along with the oak. Tasty, if a bit woody. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $28. click to buy.

NV Schramsberg Vineyards "Mirabelle Brut" Champagne Blend, North Coast, California
Medium gold in the glass with medium fine bubbles, this wine smells of wet stones, baked apples, and yeasty bread. In the mouth, a coarse mousse lifts flavors of buttery toast, lemon curd, and fuji apples across the palate. Excellent acidity makes the wine quite mouthwatering, and a faint hint of sweetness counterpoints the tangy sour note in the finish. 12.6% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $22. click to buy.

NV Villa Sandi "Il Fresco Prosecco di Valdobbiadene," Prosecco DOC, Veneto, Italy
Palest gold in the glass with medium fine bubbles this wine smells of pears and white flowers. In the mouth a coarse mousse of pear, apple, and floral flavors has a tiny hint of sweetness to it, along with bright stony acidity. Crisp and refreshing, if uncomplicated, this is just what you want in a Prosecco. 11% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9.Cost: $15. click to buy.

NV Villa Sandi "Vigna La Rivetta " Prosecco, Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Cartizze, Veneto, Italy
Pale gold in the glass with coarse bubbles, this wine smells of wet stones and white flowers. In the mouth flavors of pears and asian pears mix with white flowers and a coarse mousse. Tasty, if a bit simple. 11.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $38. click to buy.

2008 Iron Horse Vineyards "Russian Cuvee Sparkling Wine" Champagne Blend, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Pale greenish gold in the glass with medium fine bubbles, this wine smells of toasted brioche and baked apples. In the mouth, flavors of brewers yeast, apple, pear, and a hint of white flowers have a wonderful brightness to them thanks to excellent acidity. Notes of brewers yeast and buttered toast emerge on the finish with a hint of oak. Tasty. 72% Pinot Noir, 28% Chardonnay aged on the lees for 4 years before release. 800 cases produced. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $36. click to buy.

NV Villa Sandi Prosecco, Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG, Veneto, Italy
Palest gold in the glass with medium fine bubbles, this wine smells of cold cream, pears, and white flowers. In the mouth a soft mousse offers very floral flavors of pear, linalool, and faint notes of honeydew, in a wonderfully airy package. Good acidity. Score: around 9. Cost: $12. click to buy.

2009 Schramsberg Vineyards "Brut Rosé" Pinot Noir, North Coast, California
Pale baby pink in the glass with medium-fine bubbles, this wine smells of wet stones and forest berries. In the mouth, bright forest berries, wet stones, and hibiscus flavors float on a velvety mousse. A saline, orange peel quality pervades the finish. Delicious and bright. 13% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $38. click to buy.

2009 Schramsberg Vineyards "Blanc de Noirs Brut " Pinot Noir, North Coast, California
Light gold in the glass, with fine bubbles, this wine smells of wet stones, white flowers, and a hint of baked apple. In the mouth the wine is sappy and bright with crabapple tartness mixing with lemon oil, and saline notes for a beautiful, mouthwatering package. Smooth mousse and bright, zingy acidity. 13% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $38. click to buy.

2009 Iron Horse Vineyards "Wedding Cuvee Sparkling Rosé" Champagne Blend, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Palest salmon-colored in the glass with very fine bubbles, this wine smells of wet stones, berries, and watermelon rind. In the mouth, beautifully smooth foam crashes delicate flavors of hibiscus, raspberry, and watermelon onto the palate along with a lovely wet stone quality. A blend of 78% Pinot Noir, 22% Chardonnay. 13.5% alcohol. 2250 cases produced. Score: around 9. Cost: $28. click to buy.

2010 Schramsberg Vineyards "Blanc de Blancs vintage Brut Sparking Wine" Chardonnay, North Coast, California
Light gold in color, with a hint of greenish tinge and fine bubbles, this wine smells of brewers yeast and ripe asian pears. In the mouth, a velvety mousse delivers silky flavors of pear, asian pear, a hint of lemon rind, and a nice saline kick at the end of the finish that is quite compelling. Great acidity, and quite refined. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $30. click to buy.

NV Gloria Ferrer "Blanc de Noirs" Champagne Blend, Carneros, North Coast, California
Pale peachy pink in the glass with medium fine bubbles, this wine smells of hibiscus, crushed berries, and cantaloupe. In the mouth, flavors of orange peel, strawberries, and raspberries have an ever-so-faint sweetness to them. Juicy acidity but somewhat less complex than I'd like. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $16. click to buy.

NV Domaine Chandon "Etoile Rosé" Champagne Blend, California, California
Light coppery colored in the glass with medium-fine bubbles, this wine smells of orange peel, French oak, and hibiscus. In the mouth flavors of rosehip, hibiscus, and orange peel mix with quite strong flavors of oak, amidst a velvety mousse and nice acidity. Notes of wet leaves linger in the finish. 13% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $35. click to buy.

2010 Raventos i blanc "de Nit Rosé Cava" Macabeo, Conca Del Riu Anoia, Penedes, Catalunya, Spain
Medium gold in the glass with a hint of copper to it, this wine has medium bubbles and smells of wet leaves, orange peel, and asian pears. In the mouth faintly sweet flavors of asian pear, dried orange peel, and hibiscus have a nice fine-grained quality to them, with decent acidity. The finish is clean and crisp. 12% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $23. click to buy.

2010 Raventos i blanc "L'hereu Cava" White Blend, Conca Del Riu Anoia, Penedes, Catalunya, Spain
Pale gold in the glass with coarse bubbles, this wine smells of tangy mandarin rind and schramsberg_bdn.jpgkumquat juice. In the mouth flavors of apple and crabapple have a faint sweetness to them and a charming sappy note that is accentuated by bright acidity. A hint of yeastiness enters the finish. Coarse mousse. 12% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $20. click to buy.

2009 Raventos i blanc "De la Finca Brut Cava" Xarello, Catalunya, Spain
Light greenish gold in the glass with fine bubbles, this wine smells of wet chalkboard and brewers yeast. In the mouth savory flavors of toasted sourdough, crapbapple and asian pears mix nicely with a stony underbelly. Velvety mousse and nice acidity. This bottle happened to be marked as a tank sample. Score: around 8.5.

2008 Iron Horse Vineyards "National Geographic Ocean Reserve Blanc de Blancs" Chardonnay, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Light gold in the glass with fine bubbles, this wine smells of wet chalkboard, cold cream, white flowers, and asian pears. In the mouth, bright apple and pear flavors are caressed by a smooth mousse of foam and notes of linalool and wet chalkboard linger in the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $35. click to buy.

2008 Iron Horse Vineyards "Classic Vintage Brut Sparkling Wine" Champagne Blend, Green Valley, Sonoma, California
Light gold in the glass with medium bubbles, this wine smells of unripe apples and pears with hints of brewers yeast. In the mouth yeasty flavors of baked apple and pears are lifted by a soft mousse across the palate, while stonier notes of wet chalkboard and white flowers linger in the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.

NV Schramsberg Vineyards "Mirabelle Brut Rosé" Champagne Blend, North Coast, North Coast, California
Light coppery salmon colored in the glass with medium fine bubbles, this wine smells of dried orange peel and berry jam. In the mouth tangy flavors of raspberry, orange peel, and strawberry mix with a faint sweetness on the palate. Good acidity makes the wine quite drinkable. 12.6% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $23. click to buy.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.