Sunday, May 4, 2008

When It’s Not Champagne

I’m enjoying a bottle of the honeyed, beeswax-y 2000 Huet Vouvray Pétillant, which is just about as perfectly slurpable a beverage as one could possibly imagine. I opened it because I recently drank a bottle of 2002 that I found astounding, with a perfect balance of ripe, summer fruit aromas, incisive acidity and scintillating chalkiness. It’s the sort of wine you could imagine aging gracefully for decades. While the two wines definitely show a familial resemblance, the comparison between the vintages is quite intriguing: where the 2002 is sleek and knife-like in its racy intensity, the 2000 feels bold and ample, with a mouthfilling presence and generous depth. I love them both.

Huet makes one of my favorite sparklers outside of Champagne—it’s a magical, intensely expressive wine, and ridiculously inexpensive for the quality. In the Loire, I also like the Montlouis Brut of François Chidaine, the Vouvray Pétillant L’Ancestrale of Vincent Carême and the Bulles by Jean-François Mérieau, all of which have very distinct personalities. I love the sparkling wines of Bründlmayer and Schloss Gobelsburg in Austria, which I think are two of the very best anywhere outside of Champagne (and better than many wines in Champagne as well). In the United States, Roederer Estate is my favorite sparkling wine, and when I’m in Catalunya I always look for the wines of Gramona. Georg Breuer has impressed me from Germany, a country which I don’t find very impressive when it comes to sparklers, although I’ll admit that I have a definite weakness for Maximin Grünhäuser Sekt (as I do for anything from that outstanding estate).

That’s only the tip of the iceberg, of course, and it seems that one can find good sparkling wines in every corner of the wine world. What are some of your favorites?

13 comments:

haonusa said...

Nice post. I recently discovered sparkling Riesling and Gruner from a producer named Steininger in Austria. Really rad stuff.


I also like Elio Perrone's Moscato D'Asti and Brachetto D'Asti.

Cliff said...

I love the Huet and Brundlemayer, and have a soft spot, in a very different vein, for Bruno Verdi's Buttafuoco as well as Renardat-Fache's Vin de Bugey.

Brooklynguy said...

I loved the 2000 huet as well, but I haven't yet tried the 02. On my list. I love Pinon's sparkling Vouvrays now at least as much as Chidaine's, for example. The quality has gone way up in my opinion. The new release is yummy, but the 2004 (only in magnum in the US) is just excellent, worth trying if you see it. Also, Montbourgeau's Crémant de Jura is a delicious Blanc de Blancs.

Cliff said...

Interesting! Thanks for the tip. Is that the 2004 Chidaine in magnum? The 2002 Huet pétillant is much richer than 2000 (and much more expensive). There should be another release of the 2002 with extended lees aging that will be richer in all senses.

Lyle Fass said...

Peter,

Check out Volker Raumland in the Rheinhessen for serious sekt. Rudi Wiest brings them in. Would love to know what you think. Biodynamic and Organic.

Cliff said...

I forget, does Raumland do Riesling?

Jon Webster said...

I had a Maria Casanova Brut Rose Cava last week that knocked my socks off. TJ Krone Borealis Brut from South Africa is not too shabby either, though my current guilty pleasure is Jaillance Cremant de Bordeaux, make of that what you will.

David McDuff said...

Peter,
I'd add Ratzenberger's Bacharacher Kloster Furstental Riesling Sekt Brut (Mittelrhein) to the short list of worthy German sparklers. The current release, 2003, is a bit ampler and softer than usual but still tasty. If you can find an earlier vintage, anywhere in the 1998-2002 range, all the better.

Cliff said...

I forgot Dr. Bruder's Scheurebe Sekt. Maybe not the most serious sparkler out there, but awfully satisfying.

Louise said...

Guy Bossard's Loire cremants are well worth a sample.

Rolf Trap said...

I prefer Recaredo to Gramona cavas.

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