Sparkling Wines

It is the time of year for sparkling wine and we decided to do an online wine class about different sparkling wines. It was a lot of fun and we learned a little bit about the bubbly.  Champaign is expensive (or good champaign is expensive) and there are a lot of other types of sparkling wine that are just as good and far friendlier on the budget. So, in the order we tasted them:

Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco: Valdobbiadene, Veneto, Italy, no vintage ($12.75 at Total Wine with coupon). Light, pale straw colored wine with a tint of green. Good bubbles that I initially thought were teeny tiny, but when compared to the other two, were a little bigger. Apple, pear and mineral on the nose. Good acidity with flavors of apple and bread. I liked this wine. It made me smile to drink it and I love the feel of the wine in my mouth.

Seguras Viudas Cava Brute: Penedes, Spain, no vintage ($8.50 at Total Wine with coupon). Very similar in looks to the prosecco with a pale straw color and tinged with green. Bubbles are much finer, but not as many visible. Was not crazy about the smell of this one – a little smoky with a little unripe apple. The bubbles were very fine when drinking with a mineral water texture. Lots of stone, granite and unripe apple in the flavors. Not my favorite, but it will make a great mimosa.

Albrecht Tradition Cremant D’Alsace: Reserve Rose from Alsace, France, no vintage. (19.50 at Total Wine with coupon). Very light, pale salmon in color with very fine bubbles – and lots of them. Strawberry and bread on the nose. Raspberry, strawberry, and bread in flavor with a nice, smooth finish. Of the three, my favorite. Easy drinking, pleasant mouthfeel with a lot of nice summer fruit.

The clear winner here for both Bob and I was the cremant. It had the best flavor, texture and finish of the three. The prosecco came in second with the cava a distant third. This was an interesting comparison, especially since we were at the local wine store’s weekly tasting the night before and they features prosecco and other sparking wines. With those wines, we liked the rose best also so it may just be that I prefer the fruity (not sweet) bubbly.


Bedrock Old Vine Zinfandel, 2016

  • Basic info:Bedrock Wine Company, Old Vine Zinfandel, California, 2016
  • Type: red
  • Price estimate: $19 (from winery)
  • Look: Dark ruby and very opaque. good legs
  • Smell: Wine, blackberry and a little hint of smoke
  • Taste: black cherry, spice and other dark fruits. Long, earthy finish with a deep cherry flavor.
  • Conclusions: So if the White Label Soter is the best Pinot Noir I’ve ever had, this is the best Zinfandel I’ve ever had. Period. The flavors and textures of the wine are in perfect balance. It has a lot of complexity but it also one of the easiest wines to drink. December has been a very good wine month for me and this wine proves two things – big red wines don’t have to be full of tannins and high alcohol to be good, and quality does not have to be super expensive.
  • Other notes: I found Bedrock Wine Company because we had The Whole Shebang – a red blend that was pretty fantastic and at less than $15 a bottle, easy on the budget. When I started looked at where it came from, it turns out, this winery produces it and I became interested in some of their more named wines, and yes, in some of their slightly more expensive wines. I was able to place an order in the summer, but with the fires and everything happening in California, we got it in December. Well worth the wait. Thankfully I picked up two of these, as well as few that are in the $30 range. We will save those for a slightly special occasion. I love this one so much, I emailed the company to see if I could order more, but have not heard anything at this point, so I’m guessing I can’t. Will just have to wait for the next vintage and hope it is as good.
  • From the bottle: “From vines averaging over 80 years in age planted throughout the diverse state of California, this wine aims to reflect the perfume, freshness, and spice that makes Zinfandel so utterly delicious. Fermented with native yeasts and minimally racked, this wine should provide great short-term drinking but will age gracefully for 5-10 years.” 14.4% alcohol by volume.


Soter Mineral Springs – Pinot Noir, 2012

  • Basic info: Soter Mineral Springs White Label Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR, 2012
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $100 (from winery)
  • Look: Medium red, slight transparency with some legs.
  • Smell: cherry, blackberry, some mineral and earth
  • Taste: Black cherry and raspberry on the first sip. Changes to a slight mineral note in the middle and the finish is long. Notes of cherry and cranberry give way to a deeper taste – slight earth, but not unpleasant.
  • Conclusions: Bob called this the best Pinot Noir he’s ever had and I think he’s right. The taste is smooth, refined and deep. About as perfect a bottle as I think I will ever have.
  • Other notes: When we went to Oregon last year Soter was our last winery stop and we really loved almost everything we tasted. 2012 is considered a premier year for Oregon wines and this wine shows why. We debated about buying it (it is expensive, no two ways about it) but decided that we would get it and save it for when I finished school, so that is exactly what we did. We had dinner with Mom and Dad last night and opened this for the table – and everyone liked it. I lingered on each sip, knowing that we did not have another bottle of this and we would probably never have the opportunity to have another bottle of it. This really was a perfect wine.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes, but from the winery, “Sourced from the crown of the Mineral Springs Vineyard. A melding of dark fruits and earthiness highlighted by an almost floral perfume. Great concentrations of fruit, fine tannins and a powerful lasting finish.” 14% alcohol by volume.


I’m done.

Wow, that feels good to say. Grad school is done. I’m waiting on one grade for one paper, but it is all over but waiting for the diploma at this point. I think this is the first time in two years I haven’t *had* to do anything and it feels really good, especially after the last few months. Two classes, full time work and an internship were a lot, but we made it through. The last two months were hard – hence no posts – but it was worth it. I finished the internship at Thanksgiving, finalized the portfolio that week and defended in the beginning of December. The last paper for the last class got turned in this past Sunday, and then it was just work stuff this week – midterms and crazy schedules. But it is over and I have two weeks to find my brain again.

IMG_20171206_190741.jpgArthas is doing well. We’ve had a few run-ins with off leash dogs in the last few months, something that is never fun. The last time it ended with Bob scraped up and Arthas limping, but otherwise ok. I know people think its ok to let their dog’s off leash, but really, it isn’t. Poor Arthas is still scared of other dogs and every encounter where ones just run up to him (and attack in two cases) just makes getting him to accept them that much longer of a process. Happily, he is still just fine with the cats and I can say we are almost totally normalized. The kittens can walk right up to him and Arthas just lets it happen. He isn’t going out of his way to be friends, but he isn’t growling for the most part. He does still have his quirks and we are now on trashcan number five in the efforts to keep him out of the trash. So note – dog proof trashcans really aren’t dog proof if the dog in question is highly motivated and somewhat clever.

IMG_20171214_092849.jpgTigger is still a great big brother to the two new kittens. He is a grumpy old man in the morning and doesn’t like to be played with before breakfast (and he is not shy about letting Alinea know that) but he is generally very sweet with them. Tigger is still my baby at almost eleven years old and he just keeps on keeping on.

IMG_0057.jpgThe kittens are growing. I know, that is what they do, but really, they keep growing. They look like cats now with only the occasional hint of kitten, but they still play like kittens. They love to play with each other – which is great for Arthas and Tigger – but Ella has attached herself to Arthas and Alinea goes to Tigger when they want to just hang out. Oh, they sleep together plenty still, but it is interesting to see the dynamics developing.

IMG_20171217_175451.jpgAs for wine, I am still drinking, tasting and taking notes – I just haven’t had time to write them up and post them. In many cases, I forgot to take pictures of the bottles and the glass. So … I will be updating the wine posts soon. I hope.

I even managed to find a tiny bit of time to plant a few plants in the back yard. The kale did so well last year, we have more and this year we added a jalapeño pepper plant, a black cherry tomato plant, thyme and basil. Amazingly enough, the basil is doing fantastic! (it is usually the one herb I cannot grow.) The garden is in a pot this year as we haven’t reestablished the garden plot after Irma. I think this will work ok though – and I found a new use for wine bottles.

I hope to have more updates soon and if I get super lucky, a new job using the new degree. I know it will take a while, but I can’t wait to start something a little different.

Happy belated Hanukkah and Winter Solstice. Merry Christmas a little early and prost to a wonderful New Year!