Hello friends. Okay, it’s officially summer. Even in Seattle, where summer is a bear that tends to hibernate a little too long in its cloudy cave.
Which means that it’s time to pull up the tanker truck and refuel. Refuel on what, you ask?
Sparkling wine, of course.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: sparkling wine is emotional currency in my house. When Full Pull started back in 2009, my wife and I developed a simple agreement. Her responsibility: supply several years of steady income and health insurance. My responsibility: keep at least one case of sparkling wine on hand at all times. I like to share two pictures when we offer sparkling wine as pictorial proof of sparkling wine’s importance: the first is the auxiliary wine rack we keep just for bubbles, and the second is, well, our cat.
And I can’t get lazy. While we have house favorites that never seem to disappear completely from the rack, it has been made clear to me that fresh blood is important as well. In the summer, I’m not generally thinking about serious, contemplative Champagne. I am thinking of – how to put this delicately – chuggers.
Today we have three chuggers: well-priced sparkling wines that are among the best I’ve tasted this spring in the sub-$20 tariff category. These are more about crisp texture, easy pleasure, careless joy. My pairing recommendation is a hot deck, a cold cooler, and lots of friends.
NV Treveri Extra-Brut Blanc de Blancs
Treveri Cellars is a Washington gem, launched in 2009 with a broad lineup completely focused on sparkling wines. I love the price points of the lineup, which includes sparkling versions of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Muller-Thurgau (can you tell that winemaker Juergen Grieb trained in Germany?); Pinot Gris, sparkling Rosé, sparkling Syrah (yes, Syrah). And they make two sparkling Chardonnays, one of which we’re offering today.
With strong reviews from Wine Spectator, Advocate and Enthusiast, and with Treveri being served at state department dinners, this is a winery on the rise. Their Extra-Brut is a Blanc de Blancs, all from Chardonnay, and it’s drier than the regular Brut. In fact, this has to be either zero-dosage or close to it; there’s nary a hint of sugar to be found, and it presents a real alpine character, all white fruit and mineral and nervy acid. Aromatics of plum, pineapple, and fresh baked bread add to the intrigue, and this just kills it in mimosas and bellinis, kir royales and French 75s, and whatever other sparkling-wine-cocktails you’re planning to trot out this summer.
Wine Spectator (Harvey Steiman): “($14); [REVIEW TEXT WITHELD]. 90pts.”
Washington Wine Report (Sean Sullivan): “($14); [REVIEW TEXT WITHELD]. Rating: **** (Excellent).”
NV Dubard Cremant de Bordeaux
A Cremant is a French sparkling wine made in a region that is *not* Champagne. There are numerous restrictions around being able to use the word Cremant, but the most important is that these have to be made using the methode champenoise. Seven French appellations permit usage of the word, including Bordeaux. Now Bordeaux is famous for a lot of things, but sparkling wine is not one of them. Good. It keeps the prices down in a region known for exorbitance.
Dubard is the sparkling arm of Château Nardou, a small 15-ha vineyard in Bordeaux-Côtes-de-Francs, six miles east of St. Emilion. This is 70% Semillon 15% Sauvignon Blanc, and 15% Muscadelle. The Semillon comes to the fore on the nose, with fig, lime, and beeswax. The palate is creamy and bready, with fig and date fruit melding with brioche and lime. There’s loads of stuffing for the tariff here.
NV La Collina Quaresimo Lambrusco
Our first Lambrusco offering did better than expected; well enough to warrant a second. And I can see why: this is a category squarely on the rebound these days. From Emilia Romagna, home of Prosciutto di Parma, Balsamico di Modena, and Lasagne alla Bolognese, Lambrusco is what they drink to wash down all that goodness.
We’re generally going to avoid the crap that was sweetened into oblivion for the American Coca-Cola palate and instead focus on a more classic style: dry, juicy, lightly sparkling, slightly bitter red wine. Lambrusco is a well-priced, insistently versatile cateogry. The wines go with a whole host of foods, including some difficult pairings (hard cheeses, cured meats). They’re perfect for summer grilling season, especially with a light chill.
This begins with a real piercing cherry note, mixed with lovely silty minerals. It was a nostalgic aromatic note for me, and it took me awhile to remember where I knew that smell from. Any of you who, like me, grew up in Pennsylvania, probably consumed a can or two of Frank’s Black Cherry Wishniak soda as a kid. “Wishniak” is a slightly-screwed-up spelling of the Polish word for cherry, so those cans basically read “Black Cherry Cherry.” All cherry redundancies aside, this is one of the smells of summer for me, and I suspect many of you will find it equally appealing. The palate is bone dry (unlike a Black Cherry Wishniak soda, which had *plenty* of sugar), all cherry and mineral and fizz, ridiculously refreshing. For best results, drink straight out of the bottle.
First come first served up to 36 bottles total (mix and match as you like), and the wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.