Baller Budget Bubbles

So at the end of the year, everyone is looking for a nice bottle of Champagne. I love it because it’s a truly under appreciated wine. Sparkling wine in general. A lot of people think of it as only a celebratory wine because it’s “expensive.” Naahhhh. There are some incredible sparkling wines that are totally wallet friendly. First of all, let’s talk about sparkling wine itself.

Most people us Champagne is used as an all encompassing word for sparkling wine. They could mean Champagne, but chances are they are looking for Prosecco or something to make Mimosa’s with at brunch. Here are the basics:

Champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France. That’s right, it’s a region and not a grape. True Champagne is usually above $40 a bottle depending on the producer. Any other sparkling that comes from France is usually referred to as Cremant. Prosecco is Italy’s version of sparkling wine. It’s extremely popular in restaurants around town(Shreveport-Bossier) and usually ranges from $9-25. There are some exceptional higher end Proseccos around. Cava is Spain’s sparkler and also is usually very affordable. Much like the others, it’s crisp and dry. North America doesn’t actually have a name for it besides Sparkling Wine. There are some pretty great ones out there and they range all over in price


These are a few of my favorite “Baller Budget Bubbles:”

Monmousseau Brut Etoile, Loire Valley, France $12

This little gem has been one of my favorites for years. It’s remained pretty consistent in price and always consistent in flavor. It’s made with one of Loire’s best varietals, Chenin Blanc, and it’s produced with the same method that Champagne is. It has stone fruit flavors(green apple/pear), plenty of minerality, and it’s sweet. Just a bit fruity from the Chenin Blanc.

Serenello Prosecco Extra Dry, Italy $16

This is the Prosecco that we pour by the glass at Wine Country Bistro. It’s not super dry but has beautiful aromatics of white flowers and stone fruit. High acidity and a clean finish make it great for everyday.

Montmartre Brut, Tournan, France $9

This guy right here. Inexpensive and over delivers. That’s a deadly combo. This is what’s called “Blanc de blancs” which means only white grapes, like Chardonnay, were used to make this wine. Montmartre is bone dry and has a fresh, slightly fruity feel. This is super easy to drink solo or great for sparkling wine cocktails like Mimosas or French 75s.

Sparkling wine doesn’t just have to be for special occasions. If you look, there are some great quality ones available in our market that won’t give you a headache after one glass or cause you to have to break out the credit card. Bubbles are meant to be consumed everyday. I don’t think anyone’s day would be worse if there was a glass of bubbles waiting for them when they are done.

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Wines for Winning Thanksgiving

Last year around this time, I started this blog with a list of my top wines for Thanksgiving. It’s been a fun year of writing about wine and my shenanigans while drinking wine so I will press on and get you some great juice ideas for the day. In random order, here we go:

Francois Montand Blanc de Blanc, France $19.99

I love sparkling wine so much that I affectionately refer to it as bubbles. The huge misconception, despite my trying still goes on, is that it’s all Champagne, expensive, and only for special occasions. False, false, and definitely false. The accessibility sparkling has to food pairings is just as unlimited as your imagination. Clean, crisp, with a slight yeast flavor and minerality for days makes this wine an easy beginning to a meal or the perfect accompaniment to complaints of having eaten too much after dinner is over. 

Seven Hills Merlot, Walla Walla, Washington $41.50

If you think Merlot is some bastard grape varietal that should only be drank by those that buy their wines at Walmart, then you are horribly mistaken. There are some cheap Merlote out there, but there are some cheap Cabs and Pinots too. 

This bad boy isn’t cheap and is completely delicious. Since Washington State Merlot tends to give us softer tannins than California, you’ll get a more elegant finish here. Soft and delicate. Before the finish though, there will be some big and robust fruits with hints of oak and flourishings of earth. Perfect density for keeping up with turkey and tons of flavor to stand with anything you can put cranberry sauce on. Probably my personal favorite this year. I’ll be having a glass or 2 Thursday.

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier, California $14.50

I can’t help myself. I love this wine. I always have. It  is a go to for me with tough pairings because it is so versital. Peach, honeysuckle, and white flowers can go beautifully with fish or even a dessert like sweet potato pie.

2014 Cellars Can Blau “Blau,” Montsant, Spain $13.99

Go figure, I’d put a Spanish wine on this list. Well I did.

Blau is a blend of Mazuelo, Syrah, and Garnacha(Grenache to the rest of the world). It sees only 4 months in French oak barrels just to give it a little tease of vanilla. It has some great lavender, blue berry, and plum flavors. It’s not super heavy like a Petite Sirah, but it’s just a hair weightier than your average Cali Pinot Noir. Take me seriously and try it with anything that’s meat coming off the grill or… Pecan Pie. Seriously.

All of these wines are available at Wine Country’s Bottle Shops for the prices I mentioned. Drink plenty and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Luca Paretti “Løvo” Brut Prosecco, Treviso, Italy

Oh Prosecco…. Why don’t more people love you? With juice like Luca Paretti, there’s no reason to not celebrate the end of the work day everyday.

You can always find D.O.C. and D.O.C.G. designations on the neck of Italian wines.

This Prosecco is a D.O.C.(Denominazione di Origine Controllata) wine. That’s a guarantee that the producers followed the strictest regulations possible to make it. This designation only applies to Italian wines. In other words, 100% quality.

Løvo(lōh-vōh) is a dry sparkling with steely vibe to match it’s clean, crisp finish. It’s barely fruity with subtle flavors of citrus, stone fruits, and even some tropical fruit like pineapple or passion fruit.

Personally, I love a good bottle of bubbles any day and I don’t need a special occasion to indulge my inner  lush with this spectacularly golden glass of effervescent nectar. This is a great sparkling to have around for surprise company, a Saints victory, or just cuz y’all.

  

Luca Paretti Løvo Brut will cost you $16.99. You can also sip it by the glass at Wine Country Bistro.

Top 5 Sexiest Wines for Valentine’s Day

No Valentine’s Day is complete without a list right? Maybe that’s Christmas. Whatever. But worry not! For all of you in the dark about what to drink this V-Day with ya boo thang, I’ve compiled a top 5 list. Mainly because I like to list things. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something.

Top 5 Sexiest Wines Under $30!

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  1. 2013 Idrias Chardonnay from Somotano, Spain $18.99

Picture yourself and your significant other taking a romantic vacation to Spain and staying in a small cottage at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains. The gorgeous view would look like a scene from a 1000 piece puzzle your grandma used to make you work with her. What are you drinking? A Chardonnay that comes from a vineyard that is a few yard from the bed you are sleeping in.

Idrias Chardonnay is a sleek chardonnay with a body build by cross fit. It’s lean and crisp with intoxicating flavors of apple, pear and subtle spice that comes from a Burgundy style oaking process that’ll tease into pouring more.

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  1. Jean Paul Brun’s FRV 100 from Beaujolais, France $19.99

Role playing on words, FRV 100 is meant to be pronounced “F-R-Ves-Cent” and is a French sparkling wine from the Beaujolais Region of Burgundy, France. It’s pink like Steven Tyler of Aerosmith’s favorite color is made from Gamay grapes. Gamay tends to yield a sweet, fruity wine.

This sparkling rose has delicious strawberry and cherry fruit flavors to it and a long finish that just won’t quit. With the added sugar makes this bottle of bubbles less dry than most and it can turn a so-so sushi date into an evening hotter than wasabi. (I am subliminally telling you to pair this with spicy sushi)

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  1. 2012 SloDown Wines’ Sexual Chocolate from Napa, California $26.50

What can you say about a wine called Sexual Chocolate that hasn’t been said already? Maybe… that it’s not a chocolate wine? The guys at SloDown have a crazy sense of humor and an approach to wine making that is completely accessible to a new, younger generation of wine drinker. I mean, they drive around the country in an old Cadillac they rebuild and spray painted.

Sexual Chocolate is a busty, curvy wine with a lot going on in the glass. Here’s what the SloDown guys say about it:

From the guys who brought your daughter home late comes the fifth release of Sexual Chocolate Wine. This is not a wine for the pursuit of balance, this is a wine for the pursuit of having a good time with friends. As the dudes say: “Bursting with intense red fruit on the nose. Massive entry with blackberry, black cherry, dark chocolate and spice with a delicate, smooth finish. Concentrated and complex with flavors that will continued to be teased out. Displays the high quality of the vintage. 60% Syrah, 30% Zinfandel, 10% Petit Sirah.”

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  1. 2012 Babcock Winery’s Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County, California $22.50

If you want a Southern Girl, you have to look in the south. If you want a great Pinot Noir, then look in Santa Barbara. Babcock Winery is one of the wineries that keeps me coming back for more. I can’t find anything wrong with what Bryan Babcock is producing.

This is a wine to impress a date with. You don’t have to wear a suit, but have some respect for the wine and tuck your damn shirt in while drinking it.This is what I, while writing this, decided to call “everyday elegant.” Rich and subtle at the same time. The dark cherries flavors and a little bit of spice will set the mood for you. Don’t screw it up.

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  1. Marcel Martin Tete de Cuvee Cremant de Loire Brut from the Loire Valley, France $27.99

Even though I think you should drink bubbles every day, most people like to save it for a special occasion. When that time comes, like this Saturday, Marcel Martin will make you look like a boss without spending that boss money. Its not technically Champagne because it doesn’t come from Champagne, France but it’s still French from Loire Valley and is made from Chenin Blanc grapes.

The Chenin Blanc creates layers and layers of subtle fruit that you have to slowly undress. The bubbles will tickle your nose while the dry finish will create a thirst that’s only quenchable by another glass. It’s perfect for a 1st course salad dish or light fish entree at your favorite restaurant.

These wines are some of my favorites that I think would be great to celebrate with or to step outside of the comfort zone and try something new on Valentine’s Day. As always, let me know what you think.

Don’t Celebrate, Just Drink Champagne

A lot of people think that Champagne is only a celebratory beverage. Personally, I think a small victory Tuesday morning, is worth celebrating with bubbles on Tuesday evening. That being said, I’m going to say something you need to hear: It’s okay to drink sparkling wine anytime you want!

So let’s shed some light on sparkling wine.

First of all, I’m sure you’ve seen the word “Brut” on a bottle of bubbles. Basically, that can let you know how dry the wine inside is. From driest to sweetest it goes like this: Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Sec, Demi-Sec, and Doux. So if you like it really dry and crisp, go with Brut. If you like it kinda dry with just a little bit of sweetness, grab a bottle of Extra Dry. Side bar: I always thought it was weird that Brut was drier than Extra Dry. Maybe next time they make laws, they’ll ask me what I think. They won’t.

Not all sparkling wine is Champagne. It can only legally be called Champagne if it is from Champagne, France. That’s right kids, Champagne is actually a place in France right next door to Paris. “Well, what do they call sparkling wine that comes from France thats not made in Champagne?” Glad you asked. They call that sparkling wine Cremant and it usually comes from the Loire Valley or Burgundy and is pretty damn good.

The rest of the wine world has their own names for the sparkling wines they produce.Some of the more popular ones outside of France are Italy’s Prosecco or Spain’s Cava. Both have more attractive price points than Champagne. Usually $9-16.

torre-oria-cava-brutI’m personally a fan of Torre Oria Cava Brut ($8.99). Delicious in flavor and price. Torre Oria is crisp and easy. It’s dry but not bone dry. If you’re into fresh bubble guzzling without dropping a lot of money, this is your winner. It’s also a perfect ingredient for Champagne cocktails like a Man-mosa. A Man-mosa is a cocktail my friend Kevin showed me whilst day drinking in Austin, TX a couple years back. I may or may not have tweaked the recipe. Day drinking and cocktail experimentation can make details a bit fuzzy. For a tasty treat, add a shot of your favorite gin or vodka to your Mimosa and there you have it. I prefer gin, it adds a nice botanical freshness to breakfast.

I should let you know, I’m not hating on Champagne. Some of my favorite wines I’ve ever tasted are full-blooded Champagne. Like Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose ($100). Seriously, Dionysus kissed the vines in that beautiful soil of northeastern France and made one of the finest sparkling wines in the world. Light and elegant with subtle, seductive raspberry flavors.Billecart-Salmon-Brut-Rose

 

There are other countries producing some great bubbles. These days, South Africa is killing it. Look for Graham Beck Brut or the Rose. They make it the same way they do in Champagne. And of course Cali does a bang up job with stuff like Domaine Carneros Brut.

Since I can’t afford to drink Billecart Rose on a regular basis, I’ve had to find some lower tier juice thats delightful and affordable. I hope this sparks an interest in bubbles for you.

If you need suggestions on wine for the holidays, have any other wine questions or need day drinking tips, email me at beardandbarrel@gmail.com.