Hello friends. I hope everyone had a restful, fulfilling, and just plain filling Thanksgiving. Today we’re going to celebrate Cyber Monday with an offer completely dedicated to sparkling wine and stickies, to help cover all your holiday needs. This will look more like a Misfits offer than a regular offer, with short descriptions of a number of different wines.
We’ve tasted a slew of bubbles and sweet wines over the past few months. These were the cream of the crop, each representing compelling value at their respective price points.
NV Torre Oria Cava Brut
Cava can be an incredible source of value, if you’re willing to tiptoe through the minefield of forgettable plonk. We are so willing, and the result is that, every once in awhile, we gain access to a bottle like this, one that offers real pleasure at an accessible tag. This had been glass-poured at a number of restaurants around Seattle earlier this year, but then it was sold out in our market for months. We have access now mostly because I think a lot of folks haven’t realized that a new shipment has landed yet. This has subtleties leesy and floral to go with a core of creamy apricot fruit and dark bready notes. In the mouth, it presents an aggressive mousse of scrubbin’ bubbles, ready to cleanse the palate for the next bite of food. Terrific intensity for the tariff, and a fine choice for festive sparkling-wine cocktails like kir royales and French 75s.
NV Domaine Collin Cremant de Limoux
This one won’t need much introduction for many of our list members. It was extremely popular when we offered it in October 2012 and was subsequently the source of myriad reorders until it sold out. Now the new disgorgement has arrived in town. I don’t usually get worked up about labels, but I do like the aesthetic here. The wine inside is awfully nice too. While a lot of Cremant de Limoux (from the Languedoc) is forgettable plonk made from Mauzac, this is made by Philippe Collin, a native Champenois who moved to Limoux in 1980 and makes his Cremant from 50% Chardonnay, 40% Chenin Blanc, and 10% Pinot Noir. This smells of fresh baked bread, honeycrisp apples , and marzipan. A fine mousse carries flavors of musky apple, melon, and brown bread across the palate. The citrusy acids are mouthwatering, and like the last disgorgement, this possesses a certain autumnal character that is deeply compelling and perfect for the season.
NV Dr. Loosen Sparkling Riesling “Dr. L.”
What a beauty. Washingtonians will know Ernie Loosen most for his collaborative work with Chateau Ste Michelle on Eroica Riesling, but most of his efforts go into Dr. Loosen Wine Estate, the German property that has been in his family for more than two centuries. Those efforts include this delightful Sekt, sparkling wine made from 100% Riesling. The Germans are notorious for their sparkling wine consumption, but much of their production never makes it out of Germany. A pity, because it can be glorious juice. This one presents a clear Riesling nose of tangerine, pineapple, and floral notes like honeysuckle and orange blossom. There’s also a light mineral note on the nose that is repeated on the palate, which has a fine mousse to carry its smoky/earthy citrus fruit flavors. It’s a hair off-dry, and the finish is remarkably long for a moderately-priced sparkler.
2010 Borgo Maragliano Blanc de Blancs
The geekiest of our bubbly selections by far: an all-Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs from, ahem, the Piedmont. Carlo Galliano, the winemaker, is apparently a fan of Champagne, and this is his homage, done in the methode champenoise. All from the 2010 vintage, this was disgorged in 2012, and it presents a deep savory nose, all earth and sweet pea to go with the lemony fruit. The palate is intense, dark, and earthy, drinking somewhere between sparkling Chardonnay and sparkling Gruner Veltliner. The mouthfeel is classy, and the finish lingers with notes of meyer lemon and brioche. This would be a fun one to slip as a ringer into a Champagne tasting.
NV Copinet Champagne Blanc de Blancs
In a sea of grower Champagne bottles that we’ve tasted during the past month or two, this was a real standout in terms of quality-for-tariff. Jacques and Brigette Copinet began bottling their own grapes in 1975 and have since developed a strong following in France and the rest of Europe. Fortunately their American importer is based in Seattle, so we have access to this bottle that is still something of a rarity in the States. It’s 100% Chardonnay, from the village of Montgenost in the Marne Valley. A lovely hazelnut aromatic/flavor note is beginning to emerge, a sign of aging Chardonnay, and it pairs beautifully with fruity notes of apricot and apple, and savory notes of good dark chicken stock. The texture is all elegance and finesse, gliding across the palate on a sea of tiny bubbles.
Those of you who follow Allen Meadows will be interested to know that the Burghound got his hands on Copinet for the first time in his October 2013 issue (#52), giving positive reviews across the board (as a reminder, Meadows is known as a particularly exacting reviewer when it comes to scores, so a 92pt review is high praise indeed; to wit, his highest score for any Champagne reviewed in this issue was 93pts). Burghound (Allen Meadows): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 92pts.”
Okay, enough bubbles. Onto the stickies:
2010 Brian Carter Cellars “Opulento” (Port-Style) 375ml
New vintage of an old list-member favorite, and the most successful version yet of this terrific bottling. The beautiful acid of the cooler 2010 vintage is a perfect complement to the residual sugar, and the overall sense of balance is pinpoint. Opulento is as close as to a legitimate Ruby Port as you’re going to find in Washington. The reason is that Brian Carter, industry vet (30+ years in Washington wine) and blender extraordinaire, partnered up with growers at Upland and Lonsesome Spring Vineyard to plant the real-deal Portuguese indigenous varietals. So Opulento, in 2010, is 55% Touriga Nacional, 21% Souzao, 14% Tinta Cao, and 10% Tinta Roriz. Aged for 18 months in French oak (20% new), this was fortified with 190-proof brandy up to a finished alcohol of 19%. Inky-dark, it’s a total glass-stainer, offering high-toned aromas of violet, dark cherry, espresso, and high-cacao chocolate. The palate is a luscious mix of fruit (citrus peel, fig, dried cherry) and barrel (mocha, cocoa powder), and again, it’s the sense of textural balance that shines here. The previous vintage of this received 94pts Wine Enthusiast (Paul Gregutt), but no review yet for this vintage.
2010 Milbrandt Vineyards Riesling Ice Wine Evergreen Vnyd 375ml
We originally offered this in March 2012, and I’m surprised/thrilled that it’s still available. A recent tasting showed a wine in brilliant form. Here’s a quick excerpt from that original offer:
It’s all Evergreen Vineyard Riesling (part of the newly-approved Ancient Lakes AVA), with frozen berries picked at 41 Brix on November 24, 2010. Pressing took 24 hours and ruptured one press-bladder, followed by a 4-month fermentation that finished with 8.5% alc and 25% residual sugar. The aromatics come spilling out of the glass: pineapple upside down cake, brown sugar, apricot, orange peel. And then the palate, where this really delivers the goods: perfect acid-sugar balance, and a sweet pipe-tobacco nuance to the caramel-drenched pineapple and marmalade fruit. Legit ice wine at this tariff is nearly impossible to find.
NV Rare Wine Madeira Historic Series Charleston Sercial 375ml
The great fortified wines of the world mostly fall into three categories: port, sherry, and madeira. During my studies for my Fortified Wine exam back in March (part of the WSET Level 4 Diploma), I tasted plenty of each, and the madeira category was a standout, both for how little I knew about them going in and how much I ended up enjoying them. Rare Wine Company’s Historic Series Madeira is a terrific access point for these wines. You can read in depth about the series here, but basically, each wine in the series is named for an American city where Madeira has been historically popular.
Of the four main categories of Madeira (all grown on this little island), Sercial is known for having the highest acidity, and therefore drinking the driest. But there is still some residual sugar here, carried in aromas and flavors of roasted buttered pecan, toffee, citrus, fig, dates, golden raisins; the list goes on. Vibrant and intense, long and smoky, this is a fine introduction to one of the great historical wine categories.
First come first served with no upper limit (I believe all of these have decent availability, although that can change quickly this time of year), and if all goes as expected, most of these wines should arrive later this week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.