Wine Talk

The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - CONTENTS - • ADAM MON­TE­FIORE

You do not need a rea­son to drink a sparkling wine. It is the wine of cel­e­bra­tion, the ul­ti­mate party wine, and the best wine to toast any achieve­ment. How­ever, New Year’s Eve or Sylvester’s is as good a rea­son as any! The Rolls Royce of sparkling wine is Cham­pagne, from the spe­cific re­gion in France. Here wines are made in the most ex­pen­sive way. The bub­bles come from a sec­ondary fer­men­ta­tion that oc­curs in the ac­tual bot­tle that is sold. The car­bon diox­ide that is a re­sult of the fer­men­ta­tion is trapped in the bot­tle. The method used by the Cham­p­enoise is copied by other pro­duc­ers. Any­where that the words “Clas­sic Method” or “Tra­di­tional Method” ap­pears on the la­bel is your clue that the wine has been made by the “Meth­ode Cham­p­enoise,” though they can’t call it Cham­pagne, be­cause the name is pro­tected.

Cham­pagne is nor­mally made from a blend of Chardon­nay,

Pinot Noir and Pinot Me­u­nier. This is the best ex­am­ple of how a white wine can be made from red grapes. Fa­mous Cham­pagne names in­clude Moet et Chan­don, Veuve Cliquot and Bollinger. The wines are aged in the bot­tle on the yeast, known as lees. This can give a bready, yeasty aroma and greater com­plex­ity. The more ex­pen­sive wines will be likely to have more ag­ing in this way. An ex­am­ple of a pres­tige la­bel is Krug or Dom Perignon, named af­ter the blind monk who in mis­taken folk­lore is said to have dis­cov­ered sparkling wine. “Come quickly, I think I am drink­ing stars!” is the mem­o­rable quote at­trib­uted to him.

Other wines made by this ex­pen­sive, long-winded method are Span­ish Cava, Fran­ci­a­corta in Italy, Cre­mant in France and our own Yar­den and Gamla, pro­duced by the Golan Heights Win­ery. Cava has be­come a kind of slang in Is­rael. Many will ask for a Cava, mean­ing any sparkling wine. The new qual­ity player is England. This is clear ev­i­dence of the ef­fect of global warm­ing. They are mak­ing some ex­cel­lent sparkling wines, but they are not cheap.

A more com­mon, less costly way of mak­ing sparkling wines is the Char­mat Method, also known as Cuve Close. In this in­stance the

sec­ond fer­men­ta­tion takes place in a large tank. The wine is then bot­tled un­der pres­sure, so the bub­bles are main­tained. The fa­mous brand made this way is Prosecco, which has ex­ploded world­wide. It is made with the Glera grape and has a flow­ery aroma that has made it a big hit. Many think Prosecco is the grape va­ri­ety, but it is a re­gion in north­west Italy. In Is­rael, Carmel Win­ery is mak­ing a sparkling wine from the Char­mat process. The bub­bles tend to be larger than the more re­fined tra­di­tional-method wines.

The cheap­est way of mak­ing sparkling wine is by car­bon­a­tion. This is sim­ply an in­jec­tion of car­bon diox­ide, which I call the Coca-Cola method. Most of the sparkling wines sold in wed­ding halls will be made in this way. The fizz is usu­ally fierce, but it dis­si­pates quickly.

SOME WORDS to as­sist you. Brut means dry. Blanc de Blancs is made only from white grapes, usu­ally Chardon­nay. Blanc de Noirs is made only from red grapes. In Cham­pagne, this means Pinot Noir and Pinot Me­u­nier. Most sparkling wine is NV, that is to say Non Vin­tage, a blend. The bet­ter wines will have a vin­tage.

Then there are lightly sparkling wines, known as friz­zante in Ital­ian. Most pop­u­lar in this cat­e­gory is Lam­br­usco, which is made in the Emilia Ro­magna re­gion in Italy. It is an abused va­ri­ety be­cause of its pop­u­lar­ity. It can be sweet, frothy and lit­tle else, in ei­ther red or white in­car­na­tions, and many love it. The bet­ter red Lam­br­us­cos have a tart fla­vor of red berries and cher­ries, and an acid­ity that bal­ances the sweet­ness. Lam­br­usco is very pop­u­lar in Is­rael. My late wife loved it, so who am I to deny any­one the right to en­joy it if they want to? How­ever, if you have the op­por­tu­nity to search for a bet­ter qual­ity Lam­br­usco, don’t turn it down out of hand be­cause it is more ex­pen­sive than the ba­sic brands of Lam­br­usco.

Fi­nally, there are the slightly sparkling wines, like Moscato. These are re­ally low-al­co­hol dessert wines, with a spritz. The wine style hails from the Asti re­gion in Pied­mont. How­ever, come New Year, they can be re­garded as semi-sparkling wines. Bartenura, which is kosher, is the largest ex­ported brand of Moscato. Is­raeli brands in­clude Her­mon by Golan Heights Win­ery and Buzz by Carmel.

Sparkling wines should be served ice cold and opened with great care. The pres­sure of a cork pop­ping can be dan­ger­ous, par­tic­u­larly to eyes, as the cork is shaped in a way that could en­ter the eye socket. Open a bot­tle at 45 de­grees, not point­ing at any­one you like. Keep a fin­ger on top of the cork, undo the pro­tec­tive wire, then hold the cork and turn the bot­tle while gen­tly eas­ing the cork. For­get about the For­mula One-type cel­e­bra­tions. The bot­tle should open with an erotic sigh, rather than a pop and a splash.

The clas­sic glass for sparkling wines is the flute- or tulip-shaped glass, but any white wine glass will do. Tip­ping the glass will help you to pour steadily. Sparkling wine is the clas­sic aper­i­tif wine, and it will go with first cour­ses, fish dishes and poul­try. It can be ver­sa­tile. I have had some great meals with sparkling wine served through­out. Some like to end a ban­quet, af­ter many cour­ses, with clean, brut sparkling wine. Lam­br­usco is great with cold meats and the best with pizza. Moscato is an any-time, any-place wine, from break­fast to be­ing drunk with fruit-based desserts at the end of an even­ing meal.

THE MOST fa­mous sparkling wine cock­tails are Bellini (Prosecco and peach nec­tar), Mi­mosa, aka Bucks Fizz (Cham­pagne and freshly squeezed or­ange juice), and Kir Royale (sparkling wine with Crème de Cas­sis.) I think Mi­mosa is one of the finest drinks ever in­vented. Kir Royale is what you will of­ten be served, us­ing an in­fe­rior sparkling wine, when you ar­rive at wed­dings. There are plenty of op­tions, all of which are kosher, ex­cept the Mar­tini Brut and Mas­chio Prosecco.

• Roth­schild Cham­pagne Brut

NV is a sub­tle blend of Chardon­nay and Pinot Noir. It is lively, with small, per­sis­tent bub­bles. It has a fra­grance with aro­mas of pear and white flow­ers, and a hint of yeasty toasti­ness. Fla­vor­ful and re­fresh­ing, it is a joint ven­ture of the three wine-pro­duc­ing Roth­schild fam­i­lies from the fa­mous Bordeaux Chateaux Lafite, Mou­ton and Clarke. The wine rep­re­sents chic lux­ury with the la­bel and name to match the qual­ity. NIS 400

• Drap­pier Carte D’Or

is pro­duced by the eighth gen­er­a­tion of a fam­ily-owned and man­aged Cham­pagne house. It is del­i­cate and steely with aro­mas of pear and peach, backed by brioche. It is mainly made from Pinot Noir, which ex­plains the del­i­cate berry fla­vor on the palate, so it is al­most a Blanc de Noir. This is a qual­ity Cham­pagne with a dis­tinc­tive yel­low la­bel, the color of quince, an aroma many have found in the wine over the years. NIS 240

• Yar­den Blanc de Blancs 2011:

The Golan Heights Win­ery is our finest pro­ducer of sparkling wines, and this is one of the great­est Is­raeli wines. It is made en­tirely from Chardon­nay, strictly by the tra­di­tional method, and matches the qual­ity of the very finest Cham­pagnes, yet is a frac­tion of the price. It has an aroma of green ap­ple, pear and white flow­ers with a hint of re­cently baked bread. It is crisp yet com­plex, del­i­cate yet with great depth. It is a vin­tage wine that was aged for a min­i­mum of five years on its tirage yeast. A clas­sic ex­pres­sion of a truly fine, qual­ity sparkling wine. NIS 130

• Yar­den Rosé Brut 2013:

What goes for the Yar­den Blanc de Blancs is also true of their Brut Rosé. It has a beau­ti­ful onion skin color, and a fra­grance with a nose of straw­ber­ries and a hint of cit­rus. It is min­er­ally on the palate, with a crisp fin­ish. Another sparkling wine of the high­est qual­ity from the Golan Heights Win­ery. NIS 130

• Gamla Brut NV:

This is quite sim­ply the best value qual­ity sparkling wine out there. It is a steal. It is made by the Golan Heights Win­ery from Chardon­nay and Pinot Noir, grown in the North­ern Golan. It has a nose of lime and cit­rus, with a hint of white flow­ers, and has a pierc­ing acid­ity, which is brac­ing and re­fresh­ing. Cer­tainly a best buy. NIS 65.

• Mar­tini Brut:

Mar­tini, the fa­mous Ver­mouth pro­ducer, pro­duces this sparkler made from Glera and Chardon­nay, grown in the Veneto-Fri­uli re­gion in Italy. It has pear and ap­ple aro­mas and a re­fresh­ing bite on the fin­ish. NIS 65

• Mas­chio dei Cava­lieri Prosseco Tre­viso:

This is Ex­tra Dry. Con­fus­ingly named be­cause in sparkling wine lingo, it means it has mod­er­ate sweet­ness. It has a fresh and fruity aroma, is light in the mouth and is em­i­nently glug­gable. NIS 60

• Ibe­ria Cava Brut:

Not the best Cava, but it does rep­re­sent great value. It is re­fresh­ing, well bal­anced and also has a clean fin­ish. An ideal wine for a sparkling wine cock­tail. NIS 25

• Amer­adori Lam­br­usco Rosso:

This is red, friz­zante, with ripe cherry-berry fruit, mouth-fill­ing fruity sweet­ness off­set by the bub­bles. A fun wine to be en­joyed, and not taken too se­ri­ously. NIS 25

• Bartenura Moscato:

Low al­co­hol, this is the largest brand of Ital­ian Moscato from the Asti re­gion, and the best-sell­ing kosher wine in Amer­ica. It may be rec­og­nized by its iconic blue bot­tle, copied by many oth­ers. Moscatos are sweeter, lower al­co­hol and only slightly sparkling, in com­par­i­son with its el­der sis­ter, Asti Spumante. NIS 55

• Ta­bor Har Moscato:

This is 5.5% al­co­hol, made from Mus­cat Canelli. Light, frothy, grapey. Sim­ple, tasty and sweet. I like the screw cap, which makes it so easy to open. NIS 39

(The Golan Heights Win­ery)

ALL OF the sparkling wines from the Golan Heights Win­ery are made strictly by the Tra­di­tional Method and rep­re­sent ex­cel­lent qual­ity.

(Photos: Winer­ies men­tioned)

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