Fizz to Pop
the winter from hell, I desperately need of some therapy. Having tasted the
90 items in today’s release, my therapeutic, zippy, Spring pick-me-up
costs only $14.95. It doesn’t take any effort to enjoy and is perfect by
itself. Introducing Ca’Bianca
2003 Moscato d’Asti (651935), which hails from
northern Italy’s Piedmont region. With only 5% alcohol, the lovely,
honeyed, sweet, fragrant, fresh Muscat aromas carry over perfectly on the
refreshingly, juicy, fizz-tinged palate.
first developing this sweet, low-alcohol, aromatic wine goes to
viticulturalist Giovan Battista Croce in the early part of the 17th
century. Although Croce wrote a booklet on how it is produced, it was hit
and miss because the science at the time was not well understood.
Today’s Moscato d’Asti is much more consistent relying on pressurized, temperature controlled, stainless steel fermentation vessels wherein the wine remains flushed with carbon dioxide from its own fermentation. While the Moscato grape juice has a potential alcohol of 11%, fermentation is halted about half way through leaving some residual unfermented sugar and a low level of sparkle, which by law cannot exceed 1.7 atmospheres. Champagne, by contrast, will normally be between five and six atmospheres. Sterile filtration ensures the removal of anything that might spark refermentation after bottling. Of course, the shelf live of this style of wine is limited meaning the fresher the better. The code L4195 is printed on the capsule and tells us that this one was bottled on the 195th day of 2004.
matters a bit more, the much more effervescent Asti (the adjoining word
“Spumante” was made illegal in 1994), must have a minimum of 3.5
atmospheres (most have 4.5 to 5) and at least 7% alcohol. Unlike Moscato
d’Asti, it is legal to add sugar (known as chaptalization) to Asti, all of
which explains why it is usually less expensive to produce.
second most popular bubbly is called Prosecco. Nino
Franco Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut
(349662) $18.95 is produced by the bulk Charmat technique (also called cuve
close or tank method) from Veneto’s late ripening Prosecco grape. With 11%
alcohol, this full sparkler has a honeyed, fairly fruity, apricot tangerine
nose and smooth, medium-light bodied, ripe apricot citrus flavours. Like
Asti, it is meant to be drunk soon. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any
bottling code. Half bottles are available at $10.95.
It would have
been fantastic to have Italy’s greatest bubbly Maurizio Zanella’s Ca’ del Bosco Franciacorta Brut (the classic
“individually fermented in this bottle”) make a guest Vintages appearance, but alas, once again that didn’t
happen. Fortunately, the Small
Winemakers agency (416-463-7178) now has small quantities (in
cases of 6) available at $48.40. This blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and
Pinot Noir is Italy's answer to Champagne. Established in 1995, it is
Italy’s first and only designation requiring that all wines labeled as Franciacorta
be made using the classic “individually fermented in this bottle”
technique. To see a previous National Post feature on Maurizio
last bubbly recommendation from today’s release comes from California
where a new sweet sparkling wine phenomenon seems to be underway. Enter Napa
Extra-Dry Riche (592956) at $24.95, which seems to have plucked a feather from
Italian bonnet by incorporating 8% sweet Moscato (aka Muscat Canelli) into
the traditional blend of 63% Pinot Noir, 23% Chardonnay, 4% Pinot Meunier
and 2% Pinot Blanc, which has been left for a minimum of 12 months on the
yeast. It is seriously tasty with a gently toasty, honeyed, ripe winter
melon nose and gently sweet, nicely balanced, effervescence, mouthfilling,
juicy ripe melon flavours. It sells for $19US at the winery and $24.95 at
the LCBO where only 40 cases are available!
this seemingly innocent sparkler has a high 13% alcohol. Chandon winemaker Wayne
Donaldson explains that this sweeter style coats the palate and
balances the heat of spicy foods making it great with dishes featuring
chilies, cilantro, lemon grass, or green curry. In fact, it works with rich
foods like paté and foie gras, or even desserts like tarte Tatin.
Italian wine fans, Noble Estates has two tasty bubblies from the house of Bottega
currently available on the LCBO General List. Vino
dei Poeti Brut Sparkling Prosecco
(897702) at $12.25 is a fairly dry Brut made from Prosecco grapes (harvested
slightly earlier than usual ensuring good acidity and structure) from the
Conegliano hills in the Veneto region. Gently pressed and fermented at low
temperature, the highly fragrant wine becomes a dry sparkler following
secondary fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The rather sweeter, less
Il Vino dell'Amore Moscato
(588780) at $13.65 is made from Moscato
grapes from the Veneto region. A short fermentation resulting in only 6.5%
alcohol releases the fresh, fragrant character of these flavourful grapes.
Coming up: April California
April 4th, fans of Napa Valley wines can dig into some four
upcoming Napa Valley winemakers dinners all taking place on the same night.
I will be attending the one at Fairmont’s Royal York Epic
Restaurant, where five special imported wines from Clos
du Val, Hendry
Ranch and Rombauer Vineyards will be presented
by winery representatives. To see the menu click
Tickets are $125 (plus taxes and gratuities) - call 416-860-6949.
the Chief Winemaker of Beringer, Ed
Sbragia hosts a Beringer
Wine Dinner at
in the Four Seasons Hotel starting at
6:30 pm. To see the menu click
Tickets are $120 per person (plus
taxes and gratuities). Call 416-928-7331.
Tasting Note Database
use our winefind.ca Tasting
Notes Database: click
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