Monday, January 17, 2011

Tasting Sparkling Wine With The San Diego Wine Mafia

Last month the San Diego Wine Mafia held our first ever sparkling wine tasting. Harnessing the power of Twitter, we were able to get a great lineup of bubbly wine (to go with our bubbly personalities of course!) and each member contributed some food to pair with said sparkling wine. While we were able to accumulate 22 bottles from France, Spain and the United States, I think it would be pointless to list each one with the accompanying tasting notes. That and there were multiple bottles of sparking wine that I just didn't like. However, the San Diego Wine Mafia did taste a bunch of winners. At it turned out, the prices of our favorites ranged from $8 to $95 and from the Columbia Valley to Champagne itself.

Here's a list of my favorite sparkling wines of the night:

Delamotte 1999 Blanc de Blancs: Well balanced, veers a bit towards florals, hints of yeast, luxurious as all get-up.
A- $95

Domaine St. Michelle 2004 Luxe: Fresh baked apple tart on the nose, I dig it! Good balance of acid and creamy yeast on the palate. Washes clean with subtle apricot on the finish. Delivers above it's price point.
B+ $18

Domaine St. Michelle Brut:  Very traditional flavor profile, totally loved the interplay of dryness and fresh baked bread. Great acidity and bubbles, nice hints of yeast. What a QPR killer!
A- $8

J Brut Rose: Nicely fruity with raspberry and strawberry wrapped in leather. A classy dominatrix? Yea I dig it, but not the price. While I love pink sparkling wine, I'm still trying to figure out the California examples.
B-  $30

Paul Cheneau Blanc de Blancs Cava: Nice nose, great flavors of citrus and hints of apricots. Great acidity that carries through to the finish, really happy with this one. Not a QPR-buster but you get a delicious wine at a good price.
B+  $17

Mumm Napa Brut Rose: Another California rose, one that is solidly made, great balance of fruit and acidity. You can tell it's got Pinot and that is a damn good thing. One of the better rose sparkling wines I've had lately.
B+  $18

Woodbridge Brut: Nose brings the funk, palate has some awesome yeasty notes but also fruit notes, rich, really nicely done. Delivers above it's price point and far, far above it's label. This is why I love blind tasting!
B+  $10  

Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut 2005: Well done! Impressive balance between bubbles and bright acidity, wish there was more of a nose though. Still, a nice effort and the fruit shines through the mid palate then carries the finish. I'd drink this any time, it delivers for under $30.
B-  $27

I want to say thank you to all the wineries and PR groups that sent us sparkling wine, the response was wonderful! I'm deeply appreciative that I was able to taste so many sparkling wines in one session. The prices quoted here are either the Suggested Retail Price or the price I found on the winery website. Often they're available for a bit less at your local fine wine shop.

Beau Carufel


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  2. Thanks for posting the notes. I think I'm going to have to pick up a couple of bottles of that CStM Brut! Sparkling wine is always a good fallback for me when I don't know what to share.

  3. I've always had good luck with the Dom. St. Michelle sparkling wines, they're consistent and deliver good quality at a bargain price. They're versatile too, if you don't want to drop $40 on a bottle you're just going to mix orange juice with..