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Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Sparkling for More

One of the members of the "Married to the Whisky club" organised a "Sparkly Afternoon" get together over the weekend. It was naturally a success and we all had a wonderful time. So a BIG THANK YOU to "The Spinner" for organising it all.

The afternoon consisted of us ladies being dropped off by our other halves and of course a few OR MORE glasses of Sparkly, Chatting, Sunshine and the best part Relaxation and just Enjoying each other’s company.

The 2 Sparkling Wines/Champagne of note – that we had generous samplings of, were the "Yellow Glen Perle" and the "Bollinger Special Cuvée". Fantastic wines, but I will come back to these a little later on.

Coincidentally prior to our sparkly get together, Dan Murphy's was having another one of their workshops for none other than Sparkling Wines & Champagne. I have to tell you I was extremely excited that this was to take place literally the day before. The reason I was so excited was probably because I have drunk Sparkling Wines/Champagne on occasions however I had never really taken an interest in the nose, flavours, finish and so on.

During the course of the Dan Murphy's workshop, The workshop leader (Mr M for blog purposes), who might I add is just fantastic, took us through the wines one by one and unleashed lots of valuable information about each and every one. But before I unveil some of Mr M's helpful tips and knowledge, I thought it best to clarify a few things that I had been confused about.

What is Sparkling Wine?
This is generally a wine that has large levels of Carbon Dioxide creating the bubbly effect. This can be made from natural fermentation in the bottle, tank or through injecting Carbon Dioxide into the wine. Sparkling Wines are predominantly white but they also have Sparkling Rose's and Red's which all vary from dry to sweet. The varieties that indicate whether the sparkling wine is sweet or dry are as follows:

Brut – Means it is dry, however there is little to no sweetness
Extra Brut - is as it suggests, it means it is extra dry. That is dryer than the Brut.
Extra dry – Is the middle range of dry and are generally just a bit sweeter than brut wines.
Sweet or Demi-Sec – Is basically your sweet to medium sweet range.
Dry or Sec – Means it is dry

Sparkling Wines also come in Vintage or Non-Vintage. This, as with most wines, ports etc. simply means that the grapes used come from a single year or are the blend of multiple different years.

But what is the difference between Sparkling Wines and Champagne? 
Apart from the fact that only the wines that are produced from grapes within the Champagne Region in France can be labelled "Champagne", there is no difference. Basically it all boils down to the region & country it is produced in.

I was very curious as to whether one would sample Sparkling Wine in the same way you would for normal wines? That is the "swirl, the smell, the taste, the finish" and so on. The answer is yes you do. However there are a few other facts which are important to selecting a good Sparkling and Champagne and thanks to the Dan Murphy's workshop I can pass the knowledge I learnt from them onto you.

So here are some things to look out for when you are purchasing or sampling a Sparkling Wine or a Champagne:

• The optimum temperature for serving and sampling Sparkling is at 11.5ºC. However in the end the ideal temperature boils down really to how you the individual enjoys drinking it.
• The warmer you serve sparkling the more enhanced the flavours of the fruit and so on become.
• Sparkling wines are the hardest to define what flavours are within. This is due to the amount of acid in the wine.
• The white mousse (or the foamy bubbles as I like to call it) around the glasses edge indicates the quality of the wine.
• The smaller the bubbles are and the more in the line also indicates the quality of the wine.
• It is best to pop the cork slowly as opposed to the fun alternative of letting the cork fly into the air. Apart from wasting good wine when it overflows from the top, it also means you minimise the chance of the bubbles going flat.
• Ensure your glass is exceptionally clean as a dirty glass can flatten the sparkling also.
• The best way to chill a wine (semi fast) is to wrap a wet towel around the bottle and place it into the freezer for a while.

So now that I have a bit more of an understanding about Sparkling Wines I would like to share My Sparkling Wine Experience.

Image from Dan Murphy's website

Yellowglen Perle
Vintage: Non Vintage
Brand: Yellowglen
Region: Australia
Size: 750ml bottle
Alcohol/volume: 12.0%
Retails Currently: $18.80AUD

This sparkling is quite soft and fruity. It is pale in colouring with a hint of strawberry on the palette. It finishes nicely with a lemon, citrus tang. Overall this was really enjoyable to drink. It did not have the sulpher or overpowering carbonated/bubbly effect of some sparklings.

Image from Dan Murphy's website

Bollinger Special Cuvée
Brand Name: Bollinger
Varietal:  Pinot Noir Chardonnay Pinot Meunier
Vintage: Non Vintage
Region: Champagne France
Size: 750ml bottle
Alcohol/volume: 12.0%
Retails Currently: $74.99AUD

This Champagne is pale gold in colouring. It is dry and acidic with toast like flavours. It has a lot more complexity than the Yellowglen however I found it difficult to identify any fruity flavours within it. This is no fault of the wines, merely my lack of experience in wine appreciation. The mousse was very thick. Overall though this was enjoyable to drink. It is one to definitely save for that special occasion.

So please – Join me next time, as we share in "The Experience" – Na zdrowie!
Two fingers


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  2. sparkling wines such as Brown Brothers Pinot Noir Chardonnay Non Vintage makes me love to get up my feet and go to the nearest bottleshop. :)