Hello and welcome to my periodic digs into the sample pile. I'm happy to bring you the latest installment from Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the best bottles that have come through my door recently.
The holidays are approaching, and with it comes the inevitable demand for sparkling wine recommendations from readers. I tend to let the sparkling wine samples accumulate for a little while and taste them in batches, so there is no time like the present to taste a few to share with you.
So welcome to the sparkling edition of Vinography Unboxed. We'll start with some local sparkling wines from California and Oregon.
Paula Kornell is the daughter of Hanns Kornell, who fled the Nazis in World War II and founded the Hanns Kornell Champagne Cellars in Napa in 1958 (back in the days when there were no legal agreements preventing the use of champagne as a descriptor in the New World). Paula was born the year after the winery was established and raised in Napa, having a long and successful career in the wine industry, although her family business closed in 1992 and her father died in 1994. In 2017, Kornell picked the grapes and made wine for the inaugural vintage of his own brand of sparkling wine, which launched late last year and is a wonderful tribute to his family's legacy. Her 2017 Blanc de Noir is wonderfully bright with cherry highlights, and will probably age quite well.
Brooks Winery, regular readers will know, is one of my favorite producers in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, mostly because they make some of the best Rieslings in Oregon. Unbeknownst to me, a few years ago they started a sparkling riesling program and recently released their 2016 vintage sparkling riesling (it would be called Sekt in Germany) which spent a remarkable 44 months aging on yeast lees. after its secondary fermentation in the bottle. This is hands down the best sparkling Riesling I've had in the United States (and yes, I've had other examples).
Cuvaison has been making wines in Carneros since 1969 and started producing sparkling wines in the 1980s. It has been a while since I tasted their sparkling wines so it was a pleasure to try their latest vintage rosé champagne, which is quite tasty and worth finding if you like pink bubbles.
OK, let's go further now with a stop in the Prosecco region of northern Italy. I have two Proseccos to recommend from the famous producer Adami. Their dated 'Asciutto Rive di Cobertaldo Vigneto Giardino' is a prime example of what fine, high quality prosecco can offer in terms of elegance, while their 'Bosco di Gica' represents a bit more fruity sweetness / typical floral pattern you might expect from most Proseccos.
Before leaving Italy, let's go a little west to the hills of Piedmont, for a taste of what black white tastes like in the Piedmontese style. Langhe producer Enrico Serafina has been producing sparkling wine since 1858, starting with Moscato, but shortly after switching to Pinot Noir. You could say they had time to perfect the process, and indeed, this bottle of their 2016 shows a confident hand and admirable dedication to quality.
Spanish sparkling wine has undergone something of a revolution in recent years, as producers have attempted to transcend Cava's reputation for being cheap and cheerful, with the desire to demonstrate how their local grapes can do something deeper. . Producer Pares Balta has done this admirably with his still and sparkling wines. This older vintage cava features Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as well as the traditional Xarel-lo grape, and offers one of the most unique Cava flavor profiles I have ever tasted. It might not be for everyone, with its salty flavor, but if you're looking for something distinctive, this biodynamically produced bottle is definitely worth exploring.
Last but not the least, I have Charles Heidsieck's non-vintage Champagnes for your consideration. Heidsieck is one of the famous names in Champagne, having been founded in 1851 and playing an important role in bringing Champagne to America in the late 1800s. The house was purchased in 2011 by the Descours family, who has revitalized the brand as part of its growing wine empire. Along the way, they began to produce excellent wines. Of the three I review here, my favorite is their Brut Reserve, which like many leading non-vintage wines, includes a significant portion of reserve wines from previous years, giving it a nice pastry quality to yeast and butter which is not difficult. like. The rosé is also particularly elegant.
With wines ranging from $ 18 to $ 80 below, I'm sure you'll find something worth drinking, and remember not to stop drinking sparkling wine just because the holidays. are completed.
2017 Paula Kornell “Blanc de Noir” sparkling wine, Napa Valley, California
A light to medium gold in the glass with a slight pinkish tinge and medium fine bubbles, this wine smells of berries and white flowers and a touch of crushed nuts. On the palate, the flavors of forest berries and seawater are found in the mouth on a mellow foam, leaving aromas of berries and a SweetTart aftertaste. Quite pretty. Blind, I would have guessed it was a rosé sparkling wine. Made from 100% Pinot Noir. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ 50. click to buy.
2016 Brooks Winery Sparkling Riesling, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light to medium gold in the glass with medium bubbles, this wine smells of quince paste and exotic citrus peel. On the palate, a soft mousse delivers flavors of Asian pear, baked apple, a touch of butterscotch and salted lemon candy. There is a nice floral note on the finish. Distinctive and fun to drink with enough salinity to get me back to the glass for more. Made using traditional champagne methods, then aged in the bottle on lees for 44 months before being disgorged. 13% alcohol. Score: approx 8.5. Cost: $ 32. click to buy.
2016 “Small Lot Brut” vatting Sparkling Rosé, Carneros, Napa, California
A light peachy pink color in the glass with coarse to medium bubbles, this wine smells of orange peel and unripe berries. On the palate, pretty citrus notes of orange peel and lemon zest mingle with flavors of green strawberries and alpine strawberries that appear briefly in the middle of the mellow foam then are replaced by citrus on the finish. Quite pretty. 12% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ 50.
2018 Adriano Adami Prosecco “Asciutto Rive di Cobertaldo Vigneto Giardino”, Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, Veneto, Italy
Pale greenish gold in the glass with fine bubbles, this wine smells of damp chalkboard, lemongrass and sweet star fruit. On the palate, a fine and floating foam delivers flavors of green apple, carambola and wet chalkboard. The flavors here are ethereal and delicate, supported by filigree acidity. Charming. 11% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ 26. click to buy.
NV Adriano Adami “Bosco di Gica Brut” Prosecco, Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, Veneto, Italy
Pale greenish gold in color with medium sized bubbles, this wine smells of damp board, lemon cucumber and the sweet scent of white flowers. On the palate, notes of crunchy star fruit and white flowers are delivered on a soft and frothy head while notes of wet table give a nice crunchy minerality to the wine. There is an aromatic sweetness that lingers on the finish. Good acidity. 11% alcohol. Score: approx 8.5. Cost: $ 18. click to buy.
2016 Enrico Serafino “Oudeis Brut” sparkling wine, Alta Langa, Langhe, Piedmont, Italy
Light yellow gold in the glass with moderately fine bubbles, this wine smells of damp painting, cherries and white flowers. On the palate, the cherry flavors are lively with acidity and delivered on a velvety mousse. Fresh and bright and quite tasty, with lingering citrus peel notes on the finish with just the tiniest hint of bitterness. Serafino was one of the first producers in the region to make sparkling wines. Made from 100% Pinot Noir. 12.5% alcohol. Score: approx 8.5. Cost: $ 40.
2012 Pares Balta “Blanca Cuisine” Cava, Penedes, Spain
Medium yellow gold in the glass with moderately fine bubbles, this wine smells of kelp and sea air. On the palate, it offers a very unusual impression of a salty tidepool type, sea foam, kelp and seaweed, a hint of apple and candied lemon, but above all a salty decoction that evokes the ocean. The foam is light, softening with age. Very interesting and distinctive. A blend of 75% Xarel-lo, 15% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay. 11.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ 40. click to buy.
Champagne NV Charles Heidsieck “Blanc de Blancs”, France
Clear greenish gold in the glass with fine bubbles, this wine smells of damp painting, sea air and slightly green apples. On the palate, a voluminous foam delivers salty flavors of apple, pear and citrus, accompanied by a hint of crackers. Lively and bright, with excellent acidity. 25% of the volume of the wine comes from older vintages of reserve wines. Aging on fine lees in the bottle for 5 years before being disgorged in 2018. Made from 100% Chardonnay. 12% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $ 80. click to buy.
NV Charles Heidsieck “Brut Reserve” Champagne Blend, Champagne, France
Clear gold in the glass with fine bubbles, this wine smells of white flowers and sea air. On the palate, a wonderfully velvety foam delivers delicate and even ethereal flavors of white flowers, freshly baked white bread, buttery puff pastry, apples and candied currant. Notes of candied orange peel persist on the finish with the flavor of the sea air. Very nice with that nice balance between fruit and more bread-like characteristics that come from aged components. Made up of 40% reserve wines from previous vintages, with an average age of 10 years, this blend of Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay has aged on lees in the bottle for 5 years before being disgorged in 2018. 12 % alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $ 50. click to buy.
NV Charles Heidsieck “Rosé Réserve” Rosé Champagne Blend, Champagne, France
A light ruby-salmon color in the glass with moderately fine bubbles, this wine smells of toasted brioche, orange peel and raspberries. On the palate, a velvety mousse carries flavors of raspberry and currant through the palate like notes of orange zest and grapefruit citrus that combine with a distinctly saline quality to make the mouth water. Quite tasty. Aging on lees in the bottle for 4 years before being disgorged in 2017. 12% alcohol. Score: approx 9. Cost: $ 80. click to buy.
We would recommend either Wineworks Premium or Wineworks Superior as your first 30 Bottle Kit Wine. Both of these ranges are designed to produce a good quality wine that is ready to drink within 2-4 weeks but will benefit if left up to 6-8 weeks. Furthermore, they also have a great selection of wines to choose from.
If you’ve never made wine before or you simply don’t have any of the equipment or ingredients any longer then you could purchase one of our bundles. These bundles allie all the required equipment along with your prefered wine kit so that you can have everything delivered to your door and just get started. The Wineworks Superior Starter Bundles are a great choice if you want to keep the equipment budget down but still choose the quality of wine you’d like to go for. Whereas, the Wineworks Luxury Starter Bundles offer a better quality equipment pack and still let you choose from a great choice of wine packs.
The two most important critères of making wine are Cleanliness and Temperature. Firstly remember everything that comes into contact with the wine should be cleaned and sterilised ( see below ). Secondly maintain a constant temperature between 21-26°C ( 69-79°F ). It is much better to be on the cool side and constant than hot one minute and cold the next. Airing cupboards are definitely no, no’s. ( See below )
Clean and sterilise all equipment. Here’s a selection of Sterilisers you can use and if you not quite sure which steriliser to go for then you can take a look at our Beginners Wine Making Part 1 - Cleaning, Sterlising
Wineworks Superior wines : These usually take 10-15 days to ferment, and a further week to clear. Again the wine can be drunk immediately but we recommend ageing it 4 weeks but you can leave it up to 12 months. The time you will leave it will depend very much on your stocks. So get plenty built up. The reds benefit more than the whites with ageing. Certain kits ( see the list below ) are suited more to the experienced wine maker and take around 4 weeks to ferment and then left for a further 2 weeks. These products does really benefit from ageing. All the kits we list in this section require little ageing.
As it’s new to you it will probably take in all 2 hours for your first batch. However, once you are used to it 1 hour is about the maximum amount of time needed. We would also point out bar the bottling side; it takes just as long to make 6 bottles as it does to make 30 bottles, so we strongly recommend you make the larger quantity. After all 6 bottles doesn’t go very far as we said before !
From our experience it is much better to maintain a constant temperature than a fluctuating one. We suggest 21-26°C ( 69-79°F ), although if it is cooler than this, it is not a problem, it just takes slightly longer to ferment. If you can’t maintain this then we supply three different forms of heating equipment : Brew Belt / Heat BeltThis is a simple insulated electric cable that wraps round your container and provides a gentle heat. It is very souple and extremely easy to use. Heat Tray ( 4 demi/5 Gallon Fermenter ) This is like a flat tray that provides a gentle continuous heat that goes under the fermenter. Immersion HeaterThis drops into the container, through the bung and can be thermostatically controlled to maintain the exact temperature. Similar to a fish tank heater. All these can be added to our starter kit packages. See our scène showing the types of heating equipment available for your fermentation.
It is important to clean
If you’ve made it this far, hopefully understanding a bit of what we’ve said, then you’ll want to know how much it will cost to get started ! As you may have noticed, we’ve put together a couple of equipment packs which include everything you need, and take the confusion out of buying. You can make your first 30 bottles of Wine for approximately £65. 00. That’s all in ( Equipment