Friday, June 18, 2010

Can you say "Half Price Bubbles??"

Over the last year I have developed a (HUGE) love of bubbly. (My husband hates it when I call it that!) And, actually, it confuses a lot of people when I ask for a glass of "bubbly" - sometimes I'm met with a blank stare and then am asked, "Sparkling water??" Noooooo ~ I mean BUBBLY - sparkling WINE. Invariably the next thing out of their mouth will be, "Ohhhh - Champagne!"  Again - Nooooo ~ Champagne is from France, I want a sparkling wine.  Again - confusion. I love the wine, but hate the hassle of ordering it at a restaurant that is not familiar with the difference between the two.

Ah, but I digress!  I want to tell you about my love for the bubbles and about one of my favorites right now. There's something so fun, fresh, and CLEAN about bubbly. The carbonation acts as a palate cleanser and freshens your mouth with each sip, the little bubbles race with great acidity across your tongue and zip around your mouth, doing a little dance all the way down - How exciting is that?!

Bubbly is a great food wine; a traditional Champagne (sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France) and most new world/California sparkling wine, is made with a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier. Because of the blend of red and white grapes and that high level of acidity, you have the perfect wine for almost any type of food!

A sparkling wine from California, a decent one made in the methode` champenoise (traditional Champagne method) like Domaine Chandon, will set you back at least $18. You can find a good one from New Mexico (Gruet) for about $15, but that's still a bit pricey for my "everyday" dinner wine.  So, what's a budget concious bubble-head to do?

I head straight to the Spanish aisle of my wine store (World Market, of course!) and grab a bottle of Cava. What's Cava, you ask? Cava is the sparkling wine of Spain, made from native Spanish varietals (Macabeo, Parallada, and Xarello) in Penedes in the south of Catalonia, on the coast of the Mediterreanean Sea.  Some Cava is made traditionally (second fermentation taking place in the bottle, not a tank), and some is made Metodo Italiano or Charmat, with second fermentation taking place in a large tank or vat.

So, what difference does that make to you and why should you care? Well, it all depends on what price you're looking to pay for your bottle of bubbles, and how you want to feel the next morning! In many instances, when sparkling wine is made using the Charmat method, extra sugar is added to the cuvee` in the tank and many people feel that the dreaded "Champagne hang-over/headache" experienced the morning after is directly attributed to both the less expensive Charmat method and the additional sugar in the bottle...

Now, (FINALLY!) to the reason for this blog! My favorite bottle of inexpensive bubbly right now is a Brut Cava made by Rene Barbier in the Penedes. Rene Barbier has a great reputation for quality AND value in their still and sparkling wines; they are owned by the company that owns Gloria Ferrer in California and they certainly know their bubbles!

What I like about the Rene Barbier Brut Cava (found only at World Market) is that it is so clean, and fresh - not earthy like the Cristalino Cava can be, or too fruity like the Segura Viudas Brut can be. Rene Barbier makes a Brut Reserva Cava that sells for $15+, but their non-reserve bottle of bubbly goes for the low, low price of $8 at World Market - now that's an everyday price that I can handle!

Love Mimosas? You can use the Rene B. for that, too ~ but you don't need to add anything to mask the flavor, it is perfect by itself in a Champagne flute.

Find it ~ Buy it ~ Try it~ Love it!!
Salud`  KathyD

PS - The label looks like the one in the photo above... BUT - it's a sparkling wine bottle, not a Bordeaux style bottle like the one shown here (Couldn't find the correct photo since it's made just for World Market.) Here are some tasting notes, reviews and links to the Rene Barbier - Cava Brut Reserva, I don't think you'll find reviews for the non-reserve, b/c it's private labled for us.


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