People often ask me to name my favorite bubbly. And my answer is always the same: it depends.
I appreciate sparkling wines ranging from the crisp brut nature champagne to the deep dark sparkling shiraz from Australia to the sparkling ice wine from Canada. What I want depends on what food I’m eating.
I found that the right food made all the difference with VA\a de Vi, a dry (read slightly sweet) sparkling wine that’s a recent release from Gloria Ferrer in Sonoma. The first time I tried it, we didn’t connect.
But when I tried it with a variety of Asian foods that might be challenging for other wines, Va de Vi charmed me with its versatility.
Va de Vi is a golden méthode champenoise sparkling wine with persistent medium-fine bubbles. The winery calls it an “ultra cuvée” crafted from a blend of 89% pinot noir, 8% chardonnay plus 3% muscat and then aged for 18 months. The aroma is quite fruity with hints of golden apple and peach. The golden apple carries through in the flavor, along with toasty bread notes and some deeper hints of cherry and plum. And while Va de Vi has a hint of sweetness, it’s also got mouth-watering acidity.
A friend who often shares bubbly with me even though it’s not his thing liked it right away. He said the Va de Vi felt softer than some of the other sparkling wines we’d tried.
The first food I tasted with it was a Japanese seven spice-crusted ahi tuna salad with pickled ginger, avocado and a rice vinegar and soy dressing. The Va de Vi brought out the sweetness in the ahi tuna and ginger while complementing the saltiness of the soy sauce.
I poured another glass with my leftovers from a weekend trip to Mission Chinese Food, where most of the food is laden with Szechwan peppercorn, red peppers and jalapeño for good measure. The Va de Vi was the perfect foil for Thrice Cooked Bacon, a smoky jumble of bacon, salty black beans, chewy tofu skin, bitter melon and healthy dose of chili oil. The wine tamed the spice while lifting the flavor of smokiness of the dish.
I poured the last of my Va de Vi with spicy tuna roll and California rolls with real crab. Va de Vi was a perfect sushi wine, as it enhanced the flavors of the seafood while softening the edges on the soy and wasabi. By this time, Va de Vi felt like an old friend. And I was sorry to see it go.
NV Gloria Ferrer Va de Vi Sonoma County Sparkling Wine, about $19