J Cuvée 20 Brut NV – Crisp, Smooth, and Lively @JWinery

Bubbly goes well with summer and this J Cuvee from Sonoma fit the bill perfectly.  As my favorite bubbly from Sonoma that I’ve tried thus far, this brut has a lemony citrus edge to it which I believe makes it more approachable than many bruts I’ve had in the past.  And, for ~$18-$20, it doesn’t require a lot of thinking.  Enjoy this with food or by itself as it’s a very versatile sparkler.

Veuve Clicquot Vintage Rich 2002: An effervescent creamsicle

We brought this 2002 Vintage Rich back from Reims on a trip a couple years ago and it was incredible.  Not too dry, a hint of sweet, vanilla, and scant tiny bubbles with creaminess that I can’t recall in any champagne I’ve ever had.  A great way to celebrate my wife’s birthday (and it complemented my fresh summer risotto perfectly).

Mumm Napa Brut Rose – Creamy, Crisp, and Wonderful @MummNapaWinery

Champagne isn’t just for celebrations, but in this case, it was!  This combination of creamy, crisp cranberry, and fresh berry with a bit of vanilla was wonderful.  We’ll have to get some more soon.  I’m thinking that this will become our house rose bubbly.

Collalto Prosecco NV – One of Giancarlo’s Great Suggestions in Florence

Our wonderful host, Giancarlo at Le Volpi e Luva recommended this Prosecco and we enjoyed it at his table in Florence and at ours in Philadelphia.  This is a mildly crisp prosecco while light and not overly dry.  My only regret is that we only brought 1 bottle home – I’ll have to find some here now…

Cruise Ship Error in Our Favor – Krug 1995 Brut at a Bargain Price

On our first day of our cruise just 3 weeks ago, we elected to do the wine program on the ship (NCL Jade) which allows you to choose 6 (or more) bottles of wine at a 20% discount.  These wines can be served for room service or at any restaurant/bar on the ship.  We decided to splurge and opted for the Krug Champagne on the menu.  It wasn’t cheap and let’s leave it at that.  So, on the 5th night of the cruise, we had dinner in Le Bistro, the french restaurant on the ship (future post coming on that) and thought the Krug would be a perfect choice to accompany this cuisine.  We expected to receive a NV Krug which would have been a fine bottle I’m sure.  However, when the 1995 vintage arrived and list price on it is more than we paid, I was pretty psyched!  Let’s just say that our price was less than the shelf price and at least half the cost it would have been in a restaurant.  Once I got over that shock and actually tasted it, I didn’t know what do think.  It tasted different than I expected, but was quite enjoyable.  A reviewer from Wine Spectator who gave it a whopping 98 points described it as having a “multi-grain bread” taste and I completely agree.  It sounds odd, but it’s really true.  I’m looking forward to more splurges like this indeed!

Caves El Barcino Cava, NV – Spain

 I had this Cava while wating to meet the sister-in-laws for dinner.  This Cava, comprised of 50% Parellada; 30% Macabeo; 20% Xarel-lo is mid-dry with some citrus and earthiness.  It was a good apertif and prepared me for what ended up being a great dinner.  Next post will be on that dinner.

Le volpi e l’uva – Firenze, Italy: What a Great Wine Bar!

I found Le volpi e l’uva in a Travel & Leisure issue before we went on vacation which identified it as one of the top 10 wine bars in Europe.  Being the wine lovers that we are, we had to find it.  It was a bit tricky as it’s between Ponte Vecchio and the Palazzo Pitti.  Giancarlo is an amazing host, first suggesting some prosecco to start us off.  It’s worth noting that we had a full lunch in Florence already with Pizza in one of the squares, but when Giancarlo asked if we wanted an assortment of Italian cheeses, the only answer was: yes, please.  The cheese was wonderful and had 2 different types of pecorino (one very soft with a washed rind, and the other hard with saffron) and 3 other wonderful selections as well.  They were paired with 2 honeys, and two chutneys .  It was also accompanied by some extraordinarily fresh tomatoes and the best foccacia I’ve ever had – no rosemary or other herb, just simple olive oil and salt: what else is necessary?  Giancarlo recommended a Chianti to go with our cheese and it was perfect and not like any other Chianti we’d ever had.  It was light, slightly fruity, and a really matched our cheese well.  We asked him for some recommendations and brought some of Italy (wine) home with us.  We spent about 2 hours eating, drinking, eating, and drinking and absorbing all Firenze, or Florence as we know it had to offer.

Ruinart Rose, Reims NV

We visited the house of Ruinart in Reims, France when we were in Paris last October.  Reims is pronounced ‘Rhance’ for those planning a visit.  It’s a town in the heart of champagne production and Ruinart is the oldest champagne house in France.  The tour took us into the chalk caves and at the end, we enjoyed a few glasses of their wonderful bubbly.  For anyone that doesn’t think they like champagne, this is the one you should try.  This Rose is a creamy, strawberry-vanilla with a crisp finish that stands well on its own, with a risotto, or cheese as well.  Opening it up reminded me of our tour at Ruinart and the wonderful hostess we had there.  On a side note, Ruinart’s new cellarmaster spent time at Schramsberg in Calistoga, CA.  It will be another 10 years before we see the fruits of his labor.  Ruinart isn’t a bargain, but for a special occasion, it fits the bill nicely.