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Bubbly surprises

Posted: January 12th, 2014, 11:11 am
by Panos Kakaviatos
More notes and photos for this same tasting can be viewed HERE.

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BUBBLY SURPRISES - Private home in Arlington, Virginia (1/12/2014)

For the third year in a row, I hosted a wine tasting for a neighborhood garden club at Chain Bridge Forest in Arlington, Virginia.

Some 12 participants - all with casual to keen (but non professional) interest in wine - tasted in the following order.

Although they knew which wines were to be served, each wine - when it was served - was brought in a brown paper bag so that that wine was not known initially.

Before each wine's identity was revealed, we discussed its merits (or demerits). By the time we ended the tasting, I asked participants to vote on each wine: (1) was that your "number one"?; (2) was it your second favorite and (3) was it your third?

An indication of popularity was the wine that obtained the most votes (whether 1st or 2nd or 3rd place).

Please keep in mind that one of the most important criteria for this group (and, let's face it, for most of us) was price! Stay tuned for some surprises.
  • NV Gruet Champagne Brut - France, Champagne
    It was as all of us concluded rather boring. Some complained that it had a slightly bitter finish. Another participant thought that the bottle was off because she has had Gruet before and that this bottle was not truly reflective of the wine. I found no evident fault, but it lacked excitement. NO VOTES
  • NV Delamotte Champagne Brut - France, Champagne, Côte des Blancs, Champagne
    The seventh wine to be served in a blind tasting of bubblies and it obtained the third most votes of all 11 wines. For the price - about $35 - this delivers the goods. Clean, lively, somewhat high toned, but certainly fun, I could easily imagine drinking this with oysters or shellfish in general.
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  • 2009 Domaine Carneros Brut - USA, California, Napa / Sonoma, Carneros
    Coming after the Gruet, this had more energy. Smooth. Lacked a bit of character for me, but then again, I have been drinking some superb Champagnes recently. Still, overall, it was a winner. And for the price, hard to beat. SEVEN VOTES (5 for first place, two for second and two for third).
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  • NV Segura Viudas Cava Brut Reserva Heredad - Spain, Catalunya, Cava
    Most participants preferred the smoother nature of the preceding wine, the Domaine Carneros, but many liked this one more for having “quite a bit of character.” It conveyed more concentrated flavor on the mid palate – the most so far – but it was not quite as smooth as the previous wine. FOUR VOTES (zero for first place but two each for second and third).
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  • NV Ferghettina Franciacorta Brut - Italy, Lombardia, Franciacorta DOCG
    Quite pronounced in flavor. Not as smooth as the Carnernos – or typically “Champagne like” and perhaps for that reason did it only obtain one vote albeit for second place. As we shall see for its vintage sibling later in the tasting, both of the Ferghettina’s have lots of character on the palate – and I liked them probably more than the group did. ONE VOTE.
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  • NV Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay Brut - USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello
    Surprise, surprise. This wine obtained a whopping 12 votes – 3 for first place, 6 for second, and 3 for third – because it was so smooth and soft and lively too. I went back to this and just loved it. The initial nose, when first tasted, made me think “this is Blanc de Blancs Champagne” because it was so clean and smooth and appealing like a Blanc de Blancs can be. As NY Times wine writer Eric Asimov recently wrote, they tend to be the lightest and the driest and this one seemed that way, too – although I would say that it was just a touch on the sweeter side of Brut! But it is made from vines grown in Virginia, and the price is hard to beat. TWELVE VOTES. Wine of the tasting.
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  • NV Delamotte Champagne Brut - France, Champagne, Côte des Blancs, Champagne
    The seventh wine to be served in this blind tasting of bubblies, and it obtained the third most votes of all 11 wines. For the price, this delivers the goods. Clean, lively, somewhat high toned, but certainly fun, I could easily imagine drinking this with oysters or shellfish in general. It was interesting to compare and contrast with the preceding wine. Over time, I came to appreciate the cool freshness of the Delamotte more than the Virginia wine, but the Virginia wine was richer and fuller bodied – and $10 less expensive – and perhaps for these reasons provided more “crowd appeal”. FIVE VOTES (1 for first place, 1 for second and three for third)
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  • NV Pierre Péters Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut Cuvée de Réserve - France, Champagne, Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Champagne
    Now I have had wines from this producer before, notably vintages, that were very good indeed. Hence a negative note for this NV wine, included in a blind tasting for a neighborhood garden club in Arlington, VA. Costing about $55 tax included, this is too high a price for the somewhat ho hum delivery. It was technically fine. Decent bubbles, amiable flavor, smooth delivery but lacking energy and any kind of wow factor - when compared to far less expensive alternatives in the tasting.
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  • 2006 Ferghettina Franciacorta Extra Brut - Italy, Lombardia, Franciacorta DOCG
    Two participants gave this first place votes – just one less than those given to the Virginia wine and three less than the California sparkler. And this in spite of the wine being the most expensive of the tasting. Keep in mind that participants – in voting – also took price into consideration. I tend to agree with this falling into first place for the simple reason that it has the most palate presence, in a good sense. It was nuanced and sneaky in its flavors. And it had excellent length, more than the others I recall. In any case, price is high here and some were not expecting a flavor profile that seemed “quirky” compared to a more typical smooth and bubbly of the Blanc de Blancs style, so I could understand why not too many votes came this wine’s way. But it was darn good and if you have a bottle, you will be happy. THREE VOTES
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  • NV Freixenet Cava Cordón Negro Extra Dry - Spain, Catalunya, Cava
    Another rather pleasant surprise. This was clean and appealing. And for an “extra dry” not overly sweet at all. And for $10, perfect for use in cocktails, but I could also sip on this by itself without much thought. Indeed, this falls into the category of being amiable but not compelling. And such wines have a place! So much so that one participant gave it a first place vote – the only vote it obtained. Compare this to, for example, the Gruet, and it is far better. Felicitaciones España!
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I am going to take some of the Virginia sparkling with me to France and present it blind in a lineup to see how it does.
Posted from CellarTracker

Bubbly surprises

Posted: January 12th, 2014, 11:27 am
by Russ Williams
Not surprised by the Thibaut-Janisson as I think this is one of the better wines being produced in VA.

Bubbly surprises

Posted: January 12th, 2014, 11:41 am
by Robert Kenney
Panos Kakaviatos wrote:....
[*]NV Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay Brut - USA, Virginia, Central Region, Monticello
Surprise, surprise. This wine obtained a whopping 12 votes – 3 for first place, 6 for second, and 3 for third – because it was so smooth and soft and lively too. I went back to this and just loved it. The initial nose, when first tasted, made me think “this is Blanc de Blancs Champagne” because it was so clean and smooth and appealing like a Blanc de Blancs can be. As NY Times wine writer Eric Asimov recently wrote, they tend to be the lightest and the driest and this one seemed that way, too – although I would say that it was just a touch on the sweeter side of Brut! But it is made from vines grown in Virginia, and the price is hard to beat. TWELVE VOTES. Wine of the tasting.
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[*]...
I don't believe that I can source it nearby, but it's certainly--now--on my radar screen. Thanks for the tip.

Best,

Kenney

Bubbly surprises

Posted: January 12th, 2014, 12:14 pm
by ehrlichdy
Very enjoyable post (as usual) Panos.

Where did you get the Thibault-Janisson? I'd love to try a bottle.

Is that the same Janisson from Champagne? He also makes a surprisingly good Champagne for Costco that sells for $20. It did well in a blind tasting David White conducted where the Pierre Peters also underperformed. I must say that I do enjoy the Peters although there can be a bit of bottle variation.

Bubbly surprises

Posted: January 12th, 2014, 1:01 pm
by Panos Kakaviatos
Greetings David! Thanks for reading. According to the website: "Claude Thibaut and Manuel Janisson bring to this sparkling wine generations of tradition from the Champagne Region of France. They have captured the flavors and essence of the Virginia Terroir. The Cuvee, made of 100% Chardonnay from the Monticello Appellation, has vibrant aromas of pear and ripe apples; the taste is perfectly balanced, crisp and refreshing."

Bubbly surprises

Posted: January 12th, 2014, 1:24 pm
by Brian Gilp
ehrlichdy wrote: Where did you get the Thibault-Janisson? I'd love to try a bottle.
Bassins brought in some more right before the Holidays. Priced at $25/btl this time up from $22. I am not positive but I think they still have some left.

Bubbly surprises

Posted: January 12th, 2014, 1:55 pm
by BrianMarshall
Panos, was that the grand cru BdB by Pierre Peters or another bottling?

I've tried the Gruet once before and recall it being consistent with your note.

Bubbly surprises

Posted: January 12th, 2014, 2:14 pm
by Panos Kakaviatos
Hi Brian, indeed the grand cru BdB NV...
Posted photos here.

Bubbly surprises

Posted: January 12th, 2014, 2:29 pm
by Matthew Brown
ehrlichdy wrote:Very enjoyable post (as usual) Panos.

Is that the same Janisson from Champagne?
Claude makes the Champagne for Janisson, and his wife imports them. They also make a Prosecco-styled sparkler called Virginia Fizz, and occasionally make a few hundred bottles of vintage Blanc de Blanc. The fruit for most of his wines come from just outside Charlottesville.

Bubbly surprises

Posted: January 12th, 2014, 6:51 pm
by BrianMarshall
Panos Kakaviatos wrote:Hi Brian, indeed the grand cru BdB NV...
Posted photos here.
It's interesting to see how this performed in a lineup. I'd consumed a few bottles over the holidays and found it very enjoyable, particularly after a lot of air. I cannot disagree with the points made in your notes though.

Bubbly surprises

Posted: January 13th, 2014, 6:52 am
by Gary Schulte
Thank you for the reviews Panos. Last Friday I did have the NV Delamotte Brut with 2 dozen oysters(1 dz of Noank Bluepoints & 1 dz of East Beach Blondes) and it paired beautifully. The freshness of the acidity served this wine well. I liked it slightly better than the NV Louis de Sacy Rose and NV Egly-Ouriet VdeV that we opened in parallel with the oysters but others gave the Egly-Ouriet the nod. In my mind the E-O VdeV went better with the lobster cakes we had........Cheers, Gary

Bubbly surprises

Posted: January 13th, 2014, 9:07 am
by Panos Kakaviatos
Cheers Gary, and thanks to all the other posters.
This was quite a fun tasting. Always good to gather with non wine geeks to get reactions!
Yes, I liked that Delamotte quite a bit.
But the Virginia one rather impressed me for its performance.
I will certainly take a bottle with me to France and have it tasted blind - and see how my French pals react!
Two years ago, I served blind a Taittinger Brut and a Breaky Bottom English sparkler 2006. OK, the UK wine was a vintage so unfair perhaps to the NV Taittinger, but both fetched the same price (purchased in the UK for 26 pounds).
Everyone at the tasting, including three French wine lovers, preferred the Breaky Bottom.

Bubbly surprises

Posted: January 13th, 2014, 9:46 am
by Howard Cooper
Panos Kakaviatos wrote:I will certainly take a bottle with me to France and have it tasted blind - and see how my French pals react!
Well, at least we will see more of Panos in DC after they kick him out of France. champagne.gif

Bubbly surprises

Posted: January 13th, 2014, 1:57 pm
by Mike Grammer
[rofl.gif] Enjoyed the read very much, Panos.

Sante,

Mike