Story and photos by Manos Angelakis
Additional photos by the producers.
A surfeit of riches
I must have been a very good boy this year because Sinterklaas and his helpers (see Sinterklaas in Arts & Culture) delivered to my condo in Hackensack, NJ, a surfeit of riches in the form of Champagne, Cava, Prosecco and other sparkling wines, so that I can celebrate the Holidays and the New Year in style.
I should actually thank the elves at LVMH and Nike Communications for bottles of Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2012 as well as Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut 150th Anniversary Limited Edition; the elves at Champagne Bruno Paillard and Jane Kettelwell for the Rosé Premier Cuvée; the elves that created Agusti Torello Mata’s Kripta and Rexach Barqués Cava; as well as the elves at Folio Wines for Champagne Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve, Piper Sonoma Brut Sparkling Wine and Piper Sonoma Blanc de Blanc as well as Piper Sonoma Brut Rosé, and Canvas Blanc de Blanc and Villa Sandi Prosecco.
Kripta, is the top of the line Brut Natura Gran Reserva of the Agusti Torello Mata winery and is the perfect very dry sparkler to accompany Ossetra caviar. It ages in extensive underground cellars for a minimum of 48 months, usually closer to 60, on the lees. It is a classic blend of Macabeo, Xarel.lo and Parellada from some of the oldest Penedés vines. A straw-hued wine with golden highlights; it is clean and crisp with a fine and persistent bead.
In Penedes, the Rexach Barqués company was founded in 1910 when Pere Baqués Rafecas started construction of the cellar and underground cave where Rexach Baqués Cavas are stored and aged. The company is currently managed by Montse Rexach, the 4th generation Winemaker. All their white cavas have 11.5% alcohol and are produced in 30,000 to 40,000 bottles per year.
To my delight, 2 Moët & Chandon bottles were delivered to my doorstep; the Grand Vintage 2012 as well as the Impérial Brut 150th Anniversary Limited Edition. Both are exceptionally creamy champagnes.
The Grand Vintage 2012 is juicy and complex; very well balanced, clean, and rich with bright fruit and lovely depth with an excellent citrusy acidity. The composition is 41% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir, and 26% Pinot Meunier.
The Impérial Brut 150th Anniversary Limited Edition’s color is an elegant golden yellow with amber highlights. Its nose reveals an exotic fruitiness –peach, plum, pineapple and honey – with floral nuances. The palate is seductive and generous, combining intensity with roundness followed by a lively finish.
I will make sure to open them for the New Year’s celebration and have them with “melomakarona” Greek honey cookies and St. Basil’s Bread, new year’s morning.
This release of Bruno Paillard’s Brut Rosé Preìmier Cuveìe is a very young sparkler with a delicately pale salmon color. The wine shows plenty of promise in its bouquet of tangerine, a touch of cranberry, some bread dough and some rather subdued orange rind. Cellared for a few more years it will improve and will amply reward a patient purchaser.
The cool climate of the Russian River Valley creates the perfect balance of fruit and acidity with aromas of just-picked grapes, a soft texture, and a delicate dry finish. All the Piper Sonoma bottles I tasted were elegant, full-bodied, and lushly textured. The Blanc de Blanc is mainly Chardonnay, with a drop of Pinot Blanc and is the driest. The Brut Rosé is fresh and fragrant, with a fresh strawberry taste in every sip and a longish citrus/berry flavored finish. The Piper Sonoma Brut is a classic sparkler; if it didn’t say Sonoma on the label one would think it was sourced somewhere in Alsace.
The Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve is unmistakable Champagne. The delicate and long-lasting bubbles are the result of 36 months of cellar ageing and the wine is very complex on the palate, medium to full-bodied and well layered; it is clean with citrus notes at first but it eventually opens up to show a rich tropical character.
The Canvas Brut Blanc de Blanc and Villa Sandi Prosecco are two Italian sparklers that are very well priced and are both indicative of the winemaking expertise of the producers that create them.
The Canvas is dry with flower and fruit aromas and delicate hints of apple. Folio Fine Wine Partners, owned by the Michael Mondavi Family, has partnered with Venetian sparkling wine producer Villa Sandi to create Canvas Blanc de Blanc. The sparkler, sourced from Villa Sandi’s extensive fruit resources is a blend of 100% white grapes grown in the Veneto.
Villa Sandi is located in Northeastern Italy; the grapes come from Treviso, in the heart of the prosecco region. Their proseccos have aromas of yellow apple and ripe pears with light floral notes, and on the palate you have peach and melon in addition to the apple. This particular Prosecco is a dry and elegant sparkler with refreshing lemon/lime notes on the zesty finish. I consider it the perfect aperitif and a great match to grilled fish and shellfish dishes.
To your health!
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