Even if you haven’t got a cat to sell, there are some delightful sparkling wines around that are considerably cheaper, largely because they are not made by the laborious and expensive Champagne Method. Anyway, if you are not into sparkling wines, I am truly sorry because that’s what I’m writing about, so your best bet is to go down the page and see what Khun Ocha’s is cooking up this week.
Pierlant Blanc de Blancs Brut (sparkling white), France (Villa Bt. 379)
This is from Charente in France, a départment that lies quite close to Bordeaux in South-West France. The wine is pale amber with a good race of fine, plentiful bubbles. There is a fresh, floral aroma with gentle white fruit and a hint of freshly cut grass. This is a very summery kind of wine, rich and light and with a very soft mouth-feel. The expression “Blanc de Blancs” (BLAHN duh BLAHN) means “white wine from white grapes”. The phrase originated in the Champagne region, where the juice from both white and red grapes is usually used in Champagne production.
As the wine warms up (for I brought it straight out of the fridge) the fruit comes forward and shows a taste of green apples, tropical fruit and a lovely zesty dash of soft acidity that gives the wine a refreshing quality. There are reminders of citrus on the pleasantly dry finish. It is only 11% alcohol content and would make a superb apéritif. It really is very good, despite the relatively low price. The bottle looks rather impressive too with a rich gold foil and a rather splendid coat of arms.
Coralba Spumante Brut (sparkling white), Italy (Wine Connection Bt. 349)
This wine comes from the Togni Family Winery, based in the Le Marche region which lies on the Adriatic Coast, about a third of the way down the leg of Italy. This must be one of the cheapest sparklers around, and jolly good it is too. It’s a very pale bright straw colour with flecks of green and a good race of bubbles. It’s a little bit more assertive than the Pierlant Blanc de Blancs. There’s a fresh and delicate floral aroma that reminded of cherries, vanilla and fresh grass. It has a lively, refreshing mouth-feel, with a bright touch of mineral acidity and hints of dried herbs. The wine has just a faint touch of sweetness on the very long dry finish. The taste reminds me slightly of the tangy green apples that my mother used for baking her legendary apple pies, which brightened up the grey wintry Sunday afternoons for which Britain is justly infamous.
At just 11% alcohol, this would make an excellent apéritif and would really perk up weary taste buds before dinner. “Spumante” (spoo-MAHN-tay) of course, means “sparkling” and “Brut” (broot) is the word normally used with sparklers to indicate that they are dry. Confusingly, a wine labelled “Brut” is drier than a wine labelled “Extra Dry” whereas “Extra Brut” is about as dry as they come.
Incidentally, before you open a bottle of sparkling wine, just remember that the pressure inside is about the same as the pressure inside the tyre of a pick-up truck. The important thing is to have your wine glasses ready (tall, thin ones please) and a handy clean cloth in the case there are spills. With your thumb holding down the cork, slowly rotate the bottle with the other hand. You’ll feel the cork starting to push out. The cork should come out with a gentle “schlop” and not with a loud and vulgar pop. Don’t forget to keep your thumb well down on the cork all the time, just in case the pressure causes a premature ejection.