Research studies have shown that in addition to dry red and semi-sweet white wines, another favorite category of Millennials is sparkling wine. With this in mind, the SSU Winesense Tasting Club sponsored a “Battle of the Bubblies” evening and invited Korbel and Gloria-Ferrer to share some of their exciting sparkling wines.
Korbel Champagne Cellars
Headquartered in the Russian River AVA, Korbel was established in 1882 and is the oldest continually operating champagne house in North America. Head winemaker, Erica Mandl, providing fascinating commentary on the history of the winery, as well as production information on the 4 wines she brought: Korbel Natural, Brut, Rouge and Sweet Rose. All of Korbel’s wines are made using the traditional “method champenoise” process which includes secondary fermentation in the bottle. For more information see: http://www.korbel.com/
Gloria-Ferrer Sparkling Wine Caves
Located in the Carneros AVA of Sonoma County, Gloria-Ferrer was the first sparkling house in this region. Corporate headquarters are actually in Spain where the winery is owned by the Ferrer Family who also makes the famous Freixenet – black bottle bubbly. Jen Watson, Hospitality Rep, described the Gloria-Ferrer winemaking philosophy and sustainable practices used at the winery. The three Gloria-Ferrer wines featured for the evening were: Sonoma Brut, 2002 Royal Cuvee, and VA di VI. For more information see: http://www.gloriaferrer.com/.
And The Favorites Were
At the end of the tasting, before prices were revealed, a vote was held on favorite wines of the evening. For the 45 Millennials present there were 3 ties for favorite wine:
ü Korbel NV Rouge ($14.99) is a rare sparkling red wine made from pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon. “It is a love it or hate it wine,” announced Erica Mandel, the winemaker. However a large majority of the Millennials loved it and pronounced it a favorite of the evening – especially for male Millennials. With a black cherry and plum nose, a residual sugar of 1%, and a big hearty style but with bubbles, this wine pairs well with red meats and works especially nicely with Thanksgiving turkey.
ü Korbel Sweet Rose ($14.99) is a sweet dessert wine with a nose of ripe strawberry and fresh fruit on the palate. It includes a variety of grapes such as sangiovese, zinfandel, and pinot noir. The delicate bubbles and residual sugar of 6% make this a lovely choice for dessert or a fun appetizer wine.
ü Gloria-Ferrer VA di VI ($22) is a recently released brand. The phrase “va di vi,” means “It’s About the Wine.” This wine has a hint of sweetness and includes muscat, pinot noir, and chardonnay. It begins with lovely floral aromas and expands into ripe apple, peach, and lemon on the palate with a creamy texture to the bubbles. It pairs wonderfully with appetizers, Asian food, and desserts.
When Chef Giana saw the list of sparkling wines that were on the tasting menu for the evening, she created a pairing menu that would match the different sugar levels and grape varietals used:
ü For the Korbel Natural, Korbel Brut, and Gloria-Ferrer Sonoma Cuvee, she prepared a Shrimp Salad with Pears, Celery, and a Lemon Champagne Vinagarette. An appetizer of Dried Almonds also complimented these wines.
ü The more full-bodied and yeasty Gloria-Ferrer Royal Cuvee and the Korbel Rouge were a good match for Gnocchi made with Ricotta and Mimolette Cheese fried in butter and fresh basil. French Bread with Olive Dipping Sauce was a nice accompaniment.
ü For the sweeter dessert wines of Gloria-Ferrer Va di Vi and Korbel Sweet Rose, Chef Giana splurged and bought Sift Cupcakes – Limonatta and Raspberry Pink Champagne– of course!