Tag Archives: Loire

Champagne and Beyond: Celebrate 2014 with French Sparkling Wine

France is king when it comes to bubbly. Whether you’re looking for Champagne or a great value Crémant, there’s a French sparkling wine to match your taste and your budget. Ring in the New Year with one of these bottles.

Ruinart Brut Rosé
Champagne

Ruinart Brut Rose

Ruinart is the oldest Champagne house, founded in 1729. Their elegant and aromatic rosé is truly a pleasure to sip. The Champagne is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (approximately 45% and 55% respectively). Around 18% of the Pinot Noir is vinified, which adds color and flavor to the final Champagne. The Brut Rosé is a lovely pink-orange color, and has notes of cherry, raspberry, wild strawberry and a hint of rose petal.
$75

Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve
Champagne

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve

Everything you look for in a high quality Champagne, you’ll find it in the Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve. It is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier that spent three years aging in Gallo-Roman chalk cellars. It is deep gold in color, with aromas of freshly baked brioche and complex flavors of white apricot, mango, ripe lemon, plum, praline and almond.
$50

Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois
Champagne

Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois

This Champagne is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and vinified entirely in oak (‘sous bois’ means ‘under oak’). It has an intriguing mix of fresh and dried fruit aromas and flavors. Lemon, orange peel, dried yellow fig and dried apricot are layered with grilled brioche, almond and toffee, and the mouthfeel is rich and creamy.
$75

Domaine de la Louvetrie, “Atmosphères” Jo Landron
Vin Mousseux de Qualite

Atmospheres Jo Landron

This sparkling wine from the Loire Valley is made in the traditional method from 80% Folle Blanche and 20% Pinot Noir. The vineyard is located in the Muscadet region and is certified organic and biodynamic. Crisp flavors of Meyer lemon and white grapefruit are complemented by a chalky minerality.
$18

Léon Palais Blanc de Blancs Brut
Crémant de Jura

Leon Palais Brut

This dry sparkling wine made in the traditional method comes from the Jura region in eastern France. It is made from Chardonnay, Folle Blanche and Ugni Blanc grapes. Flavors of pear and granny smith apple culminate in a soft citrus finish.
$16

Helfrich Brut
Crémant d’Alsace

Helfrich Cremant d'Alsace

This sparkling wine comes from Alsace, located east of Champagne near the border with Germany. It is made entirely from the Pinot Blanc grape in the traditional method. Straw yellow in color, this Crémant has flavors of fresh lemon, grapefruit, white flowers and toast that culminate in a crisp finish.
$20

>> Related Articles:
Crémant: France’s Alternative to Champagne
A Guide to Sparkling Wine

Winter Whites: White Wines in Season

White wine is in season even when the weather is cool. Here are five white wines to try tonight:

Craggy Range Kidnappers Vineyard Chardonnay 2011
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
13% alcohol
$22

If you think the only white wine that comes from New Zealand is Sauvignon Blanc, you’re missing out. Craggy Range produces delicious single vineyard Chardonnay on the North Island.

This wine comes from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand’s second largest winegrowing region. The grapes were mostly harvested by hand, and the wine spent five months aging in 12% new French oak barrels.

Reminiscent of Chablis, the Craggy Range Kidnappers Vineyard Chardonnay has citrus and white peach aromas. Lemon, grapefruit and tart white apricot flavors mingle with vanilla and a hint of almond, with lively acidity and chalky minerality giving the wine a bright finish. It’s the happy medium for people who can’t decide between a stainless steel or oaked Chardonnay.

 

Vincent Gaudry Le Tournebride Sancerre 2010
Sancerre, France
12.5% alcohol
$25

All wines tell a story, and this French wine has a dynamic – that is, biodynamic – one. Vincent Gaudry’s wines come from the Sancerre AOC in the eastern part of the Loire region, in central France. The domaine has passed from father to son for several generations; they began farming organically in 1993. Today the domaine is not only certified organic, but it is certified biodynamic too —  Gaudry cuts wood for his barrels only on days suggested by the biodynamic calendar, and the wines are bottled according to the lunar calendar. There are no artificial yeasts or additives in the wine, and the wine is not filtered. What you drink is a true expression of the place where the wine came from.

Le Tournebride, named for a small path leading to the domaine, is 100% Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes came from 30 year old vines that grow in limestone and marl soil. The wine was fermented in tanks, then spent eight months on the lees before bottling.

The nose of Le Tournebride Sancerre is a mix of citrus and tropical fruit. Flavors of lemon, peach, pineapple and tart lychee unfold on the palate, with a hint of Marcona almond on the lingering finish. Well balanced acidity and refreshing minerality make this wine a pleasant sip.

 

Barbi Orvieto 2011
Umbria, Italy
12.5% alcohol
$18

Orvieto is both the name of a region in central Italy and the wine produced there. White Orvieto can be a blend of several grapes; the Barbi Orvieto is a blend of Grechetto (40%), Procanico (30%, also known as Trebbiano), Verdello (10%), Malvasia (10%), and Vermentino (10%). These combine to make a wine that is crisp, refreshing and aromatic, with a slight touch of sweetness adding a lift at the end of each sip.

The grapes in the Barbi Orvieto were grown in vineyards that are 960 feet above sea level, in clay and sandy soil that is rich in fossils. Fermentation was stopped early to retain some residual sugar.

Melon and honeysuckle aromas introduce a palate of honeydew, green apple, yellow pear and a hint of white pepper. Vibrant acidity gives the Barbi Orvieto a lively mouthfeel and a clean finish.

 

Halter Ranch Côtes de Paso Blanc 2011
Paso Robles, California
14.2% alcohol
$25

If winter weather has you feeling down, try the Côtes de Paso Blanc from Halter Ranch. Its fragrant floral aromas will make you feel like spring is already in bloom.

Rhône grapes shine in Paso Robles, the Central California region where Halter Ranch Winery is located. This wine is a blend of Grenache Blanc (33%), Roussanne (26%), Picpoul Blanc (20%), Marsanne (12%), and Viognier (9%). After fermentation in French oak barrels, the wine spent four months aging on the lees in 100% neutral French oak barrels.

Aromas of white flowers and peach expand on the palate, along with flavors of white apricot, jasmine, orange blossom and toasted hazelnut. Elegant with refreshing minerality and a satisfying finish, the Côtes de Paso Blanc is a white wine that is sure to cheer you up on a cold day.

 

Standing Stone Vineyards Riesling 2011
Finger Lakes, New York
11.7% alcohol
$14

The Finger Lakes region in upstate New York is becoming the go-to spot for new and exciting Riesling. Even the president is a fan – on Monday a Finger Lakes Riesling was served at President Obama’s inaugural luncheon.

Standing Stone Vineyards is located on the east side of Seneca Lake. The grapes for the 2011 Riesling were fermented in stainless steel tanks using three different yeasts. The final wine is a blend from the lots, which brings together the most desirable characteristic of each.

This off-dry Riesling is wonderfully aromatic with notes of ripe citrus, tropical fruits and wildflower honey. On the palate are flavors of tangerine, sweet grapefruit, guava and mango. Gentle acidity balances out the sweetness, and flinty minerality makes for a clean finish.

More White Wines | Red Wines | More Under $20

Cremant: France’s Alternative to Champagne

There’s so much more to French sparkling wine than just Champagne. Sparkling wine is produced all over France using the same traditional method (and often same grapes) as Champagne. Called Crémant, the sparkling wine can be of the same high quality as Champagne, though typically costing much less.

Click here for Champagne facts and figures

There are seven appellations which include this designation in their name: Crémant d’Alsace, Crémant de Bordeaux, Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant de Die, Crémant du Jura, Crémant de Limoux and Crémant de Loire.

Crémant is not limited to the three grapes of Champagne (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier). Instead it may be made from one or a blend of each region’s native grapes, which can produce a range of flavors not found in Champagne.

Don’t limit yourself to Champagne – the variety of Crémant produced in France guarantees you’ll find several that you love.

Click here to read about sparkling wines produced around the world

Here are some Crémants to try:

Crémant de Bordeaux

Jaillance Cuvée de l’Abbaye Brut Crémant de Bordeaux ($19)

This sparkling wine is made entirely from Semillon, one of the two main white wine grapes in Bordeaux (Sauvignon Blanc is the other). This Crémant is aged on the lees for 24 months.

Dry, crisp and elegant, the Jaillance Cuvée de l’Abbaye has all the desirable characteristics you look for in a brut sparkling wine. It is extremely pale yellow in color, with round and fresh flavors. Ripe lemon, white grapefruit, white raspberries, almond and a touch of brioche are enhanced by small bubbles.
Click here to read a full review of the Jaillance Crémant

Crémant de Loire

De Chanceny Crémant de Loire Brut ($14)

This sparkling wine is made from 70% Chenin Blanc, 15% Chardonnay and 15% Cabernet Franc, all grapes grown in the Loire region. The grapes were hand-picked from 30 different families of growers, and the sparkling wine was aged for 18 months in cellars that date back to the 12th century.

The sparkling wine is pale straw yellow in color, as the juice from the Cabernet Franc grapes did not have contact with the color-imparting skins. The flavors from this red wine grape enhance the flavors of the two white wine grapes, adding a slight hint of white raspberry to the white grapefruit, lemon, pear and toast notes.

Crémant du Jura

Domaine Berthet-Bondet Crémant du Jura ($19)

Jura is perhaps the least well-known wine region in France, located just east of Burgundy. Its perched village of Château-Chalon (where Domaine Berthet-Bondet is located), is classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France.

This Crémant is made from Chardonnay and Savagnin, the two white wine grapes of the Jura. It is a lovely mix of citrus and white flowers. Flavors of lemon, white grapefruit and golden apple culminate in a dry and refreshing finish.

Crémant d’Alsace

Jean Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut Reserve ($18)

This sparkling wine is made entirely from Pinot Blanc, a white wine grape that is a genetic mutation of Pinot Noir. Most Crémant d’Alsace is made from Pinot Blanc, though it may also be made from Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The Jean Albrecht Crémant is pale straw yellow in color with small bubbles. Dry and delicate flavors of white citrus and toast plus a hint of sweet apricot make this sparkling wine really enjoyable to drink.

Crémant de Bourgogne

Blason de Bourgogne Crémant de Bourgogne Cuvée Brut ($10)

With Chardonnay and Pinot Noir being the main grapes of Burgundy (Bourgogne in French), this region produces sparkling wines that are very similar to Champagne.

The Blason de Bourgogne Crémant has flavors of pear, apple and toasted bread that culminate in a crisp finish that has a hint of toasted almonds. With its small energetic bubbles this sparkling wine is easy to drink and light on the tongue, with a price tag that’s hard to beat.