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Domaine Carneros

Sparkling Wine

Four Organic Sparkling Wines for Earth Day Weekend

April 23, 2010
Terra Savia's Blanc de Blancs is just one of the many sparkling wines from organic grapes on the market today. (Courtesy photo)

Terra Savia's Blanc de Blancs is just one of the many sparkling wines from organic grapes on the market today. (Courtesy photo)

The weather was odd this Earth Day 2010, with strong showers  and wind alternating with patches of sun. It’s like Mother Nature is bi-polar, or she’s trying to show off all of her stuff in one day.

One of the best ways to show your love for the planet and your body is by drinking wine made from organically grown grapes. These wines used to be hard to find, but these days with increased awareness about the dangers that pesticides can pose to the earth, farm-workers and end consumers, there’s lots of choice. One of the best places to find international organic wines online remains The Organic Wine Company and Whole Foods Markets around the country also have a good selection. Read up on all sorts of organic wines at Organic Wine Review.com.

I especially like sparkling wines made from organic grapes. My favorite sparkling wines have a sheer and elegant quality to them and this seems to be magnified in sparkling wines and champagnes made from organic grapes.

Plus I find that winemakers who produce an organic sparkling wines – one of the hardest styles to make – share this reverence their vineyards and nurturing them so they yield the best clusters of grapes. On a recent trip to Spain, winemaker Ton Mata of Cavas Recaredo told me that he tested out growing without pesticides or chemical fertilizers, his vineyards let him know that this was what they needed. Now their production of 300,000 bottles of long aged cavas called gran reservas are all made with organically grown grapes. I found the same passion for the land talking to Jim Milone of Terra Savia in Mendocino and Eileen Crane of Domaine Carneros in Napa.

Some people feel guilty about drinking wine that has had to be shipped for thousands of miles, because of the fossil fuel burned up along the journey. So in the interest of being completely eco-friendly this Earth Day, I’m offering a list of some great green wines from around the world.

Terra Savia Blanc de Blancs – I stumbled across the wine at Andy’s Market in Sebastopol one day and bought it because I was thrilled to find an organic grape sparkling wine for under $25. My friends and I loved its bright green apple notes and clean flavors balanced with a hint of toastiness.

La Cantina Pizzolato Prosecco

La Cantina Pizzolato Prosecco

La Cantina Pizzolato Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene For five generations the Pizzolato family has been growing grapes in the northern Italian town of Treviso. In 1991, their Treviso vineyards were certified organic. They now produce a range of organic proseccos including from the Treviso and Valdobbiadene DOCs as well as a sparkling chardonnay and a raboso, a red grape that produces sprightly, fruity wines. The prosecco typically sells for around $15-16.

Domaine Carneros Brut Rose

Domaine Carneros Brut Rose

Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé Cuveé de la Pompadour – Since 2005, all the wines from this Taittinger-owned house in Napa have been made from organically grown grapes; the estate’s vineyards were certified organic in 2008.  Winemaker and CEO Eileen Crane says the vines just seem more vigorous, it’s better for the workers and the wines taste even better. The Brut Rosé is completely dry, but has wonderful strawberry and plum flavors thanks to the predominance of pinot noir.  It’s $25 to $30 a bottle.

Cavas Recaredo Brut Nature 2006

Cavas Recaredo Brut Nature 2006

Cavas Recaredo Brut Nature Cava 2006There are so many little details that go into producing Cavas Recaredo, which are poured at the best restaurants in the world including Arzak and The French Laundry in Yountville. All the cavas are aged long on the yeast to produce a complex flavors, they’re aged on the cork, disgorged by hand and are finished with no sugar in the dosage, making them brut nature in style. About $35.

Sparkling Wine

Beautiful Bubbly: Images from Napa, Sonoma & Mendocino

February 16, 2010

I know the summer seems a very long way off right now. So just for fun, I created this slide show of some of the places and people I visited this summer on my Bubbly Bar book tour. Maybe these pictures of wineries in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino will inspire your summer vacation plans this year. Cheers!

Champagne, Drinks, Shopping, Sparkling Wine

10 Great Bubbly Bargains for New Year’s Eve – All Under $30

December 30, 2009
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This cremant from Burgundy is French, eminently drinkable, and $10 at Trader Joe's.

This cremant from Burgundy is French, eminently drinkable, and $10 at Trader Joe’s.

On the whole, I think 2009 will be remembered as the year of moderation. Nearly everyone is looking for ways to be smarter about how they spend their money. While champagne and sparkling wines seem like a luxury — and they are a luxurious experience — they don’t have to come with a high price tag. One of the most useful features of my book The Bubbly Bar is a guide to buying bubbly in every price range. Since I wrote the book, I’ve continued to discover affordable sparkling wines that are great for sipping alone or in cocktails. Here’s my list of bargain bubbly available nationwide for New Year’s Eve 2010.

1. Michel Dervin Brut Champagne – crafted by a small grower in Champagne, this is toasty just the way you want, about $29.99
2. Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut or Extra Dry – made just outside Seattle, these wines are fresh and easy to like, about $8.99
3. Juve y Camps Reserva de la Familia Cava Brut Nature – an elegant and delicate mouthful, about $15
4. Blason de Bourgogne – a sparkling wine from Burgundy, made especially for Trader Joes available in brut and a brut rosé, about $10 – At Trader Joe’s
5. Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs – crafted from pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, a satisfying bubbly with a hint of richness, about $17

The Domaine Carernos Brut is a perfect marriage of California and France, with its fresh fruit balanced by toastiness.

The Domaine Carernos Brut is a perfect marriage of California and France, with its fresh fruit balanced by toastiness.

6. Domaine Carneros Brut – fresh and toasty, a marriage of California and France, about $24
7. Roederer Estate Brut – crisp green apple abounds, about $19
8. Mionetto Prosecco Brut – fresh green pear and soft bubbles, about $14
9. Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rosé – sophisticated and juicy with pinot noir, about $20
10. Domaine Chandon Brut Classic – a bright and bubbly wine, always a classic about $15

Bubbly Events

Bubbles on Tour: Bubbly Bar Book Events

September 14, 2009
Signing books at the Hotel Solamar on Aug. 26 at the San Diego launch party presented by Slow Food Urban San Diego  and Domaine Chandon - what a blast!

Signing books at the Hotel Solamar on Aug. 26 at the San Diego launch party presented by Slow Food Urban San Diego and Domaine Chandon - what a blast!

It’s been quite the whirlwind since my book The Bubbly Bar: Champagne & Sparkling Wine Cocktails (Clarkson Potter, $16.99) launched a few weeks ago. It’s amazing how many different skills it takes to be an author; not only do you need to know enough about a topic to write about it, once you’ve done so and had the incredible good fortune to get a book published, then you need to become an expert at marketing, event planning and logistics! All that is to say that with the help of some friends, I’ve put together some fun Bubbly Bar book events that will start happening around the country in a couple weeks.

If you’re a Bubbly Girl – or even if you just like to have fun while tasting some sparkling wine cocktails and learning something new, then I hope you’ll come out to join the fun as I make my way around the country. Stay tuned for more events in NYC, San Francisco, Atlanta and San Diego but here’s where I’ll be for the next month or so:

Chicago

Oct. 1.  – Pops for Champagne 601 N. State St. 6 to 8 p.m.
Come learn how to make great autumn cocktails with Domaine Carneros – America’s first estate grown organic sparkling wine and fine artisanal spirits. Ticket are $25 and include a signed book, cocktails and nibbles at America’s most acclaimed champagne bar. To RSVP, email rsvp@popsforchampagne.com

Oct. 3 – Shop & Sip at M2 Boutique, 3527 N. Southport Ave. 12 to 4 p.m.
We’ll have fun sipping fizz and browsing through fabulous fall fashions including TANO leather handbags at 20% off at this value-conscious boutique. Free event, no RSVP required.

Los Angeles

Oct. 7 – Moet Champagne Cocktails & A Sparkling Book Party at The Edison, 108 W. Second Ave. 5:30 to 7:30
p.m. Meet me in the Tesla Lounge for an intimate literary cocktail party featuring Moet & Chandon champagne cocktails and appetizers at this unique vintage-style bar in downtown LA. Wear business or cocktail attire – the Edison has a dress code. Stick around for the sexy cabaret show starting at 8 in the main bar. Tickets are $20 and include a signed book and bubbly. All guests must pre-pay by Oct. 3 by emailing maria at thebubblygirl.com.

NYC

Oct. 12  – The Bombay Bubbly Experience at Beekman’s Bar & Books, 889 1st Ave (At 50th) 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
We’ll explore the unique synergy between fine aromatic Bombay Sapphire gin and bubbly at this cocktail demo and party at Beekman’s, a warm and clubby bar that’s filled with thousands of books. I’ll be mixing drinks along with resident bartender Ben Scorah – GQ Magazine’s NYC Bartender of the Year- and Bombay Sapphire U.S. Mixologist James Moreland.  Tickets are $25 and include cocktails, food and signed books. For information on reservations, email maria at thebubblygirl.com

Napa County

Oct. 24- Cocktail clinics & book signing at Domaine Chandon, 1 California Drive, Yountville. I’ll be lounging in the gift shop of this modern showcase winery and giving two cocktail clinics featuring drinks from the book throughout the day. Cocktails from The Bubbly Bar will also be available for purchase at the tasting bar. Come up and make a day of it by taking a behind the scenes tour of the winery and treating yourself to a bubblicious lunch or dinner at Etoile! Free event!

Washington DC

Nov. 4 – Cava and Latin Libations at Masa 14, 1825 14th St. NW, Washington DC 5:30 to 9 p.m.
Masa 14 is the hot new restaurant by Richard Sandoval and Kaz Okochi that serves Latin and Asian small plates in a hip setting. We’ll explore the fine Spanish sparkling wine called cava and Latin libations from The Bubbly Bar paired with small plates from the restaurant. Tickets are $35 and include, drinks, food and a signed book. Make reservations through www.hooksbookevents.com or call 202-328-1414.

NYC

Dec. 12 – Book signing & Weekend Tasting at Harlem Vintage, 2235 Frederick Douglass Blvd. 4 to 7 p.m. Perrier-Jouet Champagne will be the featured champagne at this tasting and book signing at Harlem Vintage in this famous neighborhood that was home to lots of gin joints and speakeasies dating back to the classic cocktail era. A bottle of international bubbly and a signed copy of the Bubbly Bar make a fabulous and fast holiday gift. Harlem’s own Hue-Man Bookstore will be our book-selling partner for this special tasting. Free event!

Champagne, Drinks, Sparkling Wine

How Green is My Bubbly: 5 Eco Champagnes & Sparkling Wines for Earth Day

April 15, 2009

With Earth Day approaching it seems like a perfect time to plan an organic picnic at your favorite beach or park. You’ll go to the store for organic salad greens, strawberries, naturally raised meat and even eco-ice cream, but what to drink?

A couple years ago as I was researching my book The Bubbly Bar, I wanted to include a chapter on organic champagnes and sparkling wines. I had to settle for a section in the appendix because they weren’t widely available.

But it’s a whole new world as we approach Earth Day 2009. I found loads of green bubbly made from sustainable or certified organically grown grapes on wine web sites and at stores like Trader Joe’s and Fresh & Easy. Conscientious winemakers, who care about preserving the land and the health of their workers and customers, are making chemical-free wines in the US, France, Spain, South Africa and Italy. And though many items created with organic ingredients do cost more, I found wines for under $15, including one that’s just $4.99!

With the growing interest in organic foods and beverages, which was estimated to be a $23 bilion industry in 2008 according to the Organic Trade Association, it’s no surprise to see more wines made from organic grapes available. Because of U.S. regulations, wines can’t be labeled as “organic” if sulfites, a naturally occurring substance that’s used to stabilize and preserve wines, are added. USDA regulations limit wines from organically grown grapes to 100 ppm of sulfites; a typical sparkling wine will have just 70 ppm.  Biodynamic grapes are grown according to the highest  level of organic agriculture. Producers follow the tenets of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner which involve planting according to the cycles of the moon leads to healthier plants.

The latest major winery to move to all-organic production is Domaine Carneros by Taittinger in the Napa Valley. “All 300 acres of our vineyards are certified organic,” says Eileen Crane, winemaker and CEO of Domaine Carneros. “We’re the only sparkling wine house in all of the US that can say that.”

Crane said they started following organic growing practice in 2005 in order to qualify for the official designation in 2007. When weeds come up, they till the soil. To deal with pesky bugs that eat the grape leaves, they brought in a flock of organic chickens. And most importantly, Crane says her wines, which have an incredible balance of freshness and French toastiness, taste even better.
“It’s off the charts,” Crane says. “The vines look happy they’re vibrant and green and it feels good to walk in the vineyard.”

Here are five great sparkling wines and champagnes made from organic and sustainably raised grapes to pop the cork on this Earth Day 2009; just be sure to recycle that bottle! To learn about five more great eco-friendly wines, sign up for my free entertaining newsletter The Bubbly Girl Chronicles.

Albero Sparkling Wine from Spain

Albero Sparkling Wine
Spain
This delightful bargain wine is crafted from macabeo and airén grapes at Bodegas Iranzo in Valencia, which has been organic since 1994.  It’s not super complex, but this wine has hints of citrus and green pear and is pleasant and refreshing like a Sunday afternoon party.
About $4.99 at Trader Joe’s

Makulu Moscato is made from sustainably raised grapes in South Africa.

Makulu Moscato

Makulu Moscato
South Africa
Makulu, the second oldest cellar in South Africa, means “big”  in the Zulu language.  Big is also a good description for this blend of moscato, chenin blanc and colombard grapes that’s bursting with flavors of peaches, apricots and pears. This wine, which is made from sustainably grown grapes, is very low in alcohol and  comes from the Paarl Ward region of Western Cape of South Africa.
About $6 at Fresh & Easy stores and Ingersoll Wine & Spirits

Albet i Noya Cava Brut Reserva

Albet i Noya Cava Brut Reserva

Albet i Noya Cava Brut Reserva
Spain
Albet i Noya is Spain’s leading organic wine producer; this cava is made from chardonnay, xarel-lo, macabeo and parellada grapes that were grown in the Penedes region. It has a bright, crisp flavor of lemon zest and orange balanced by a nutty brioche finish.
About $18 at  at Appellation Wine & Spirits

Domaine Carneros Brut

Domaine Carneros Brut

Domaine Carneros Brut
California
The wines from Domaine Carneros, which is owned by Taittinger, have always had a French structure and toastiness to them balanced by juciy California fruit. Since going organic back in 2005, the wines seem even more crisp and clear.
About $22 at Beverages & More

Fleury Brut Rosé Champagne

Fleury Brut Rosé Champagne

Fleury Brut Rosé Champagne
France
Fleury was the first champagne producer to go biodynamic back in 1989, meaning they not only abstain from chemicals and pesticides, but they feed the land and plant by moon cycles so plants are more vigorous. This rose is made from 100% pinot noir  and is elegant but reveals a toasty depth too.
About $49 at K & L Wines.

Maria Hunt, the SDNN Food & Drink Editor, is the author of The Bubbly Bar: Champagne & Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion being released in August by Clarkson Potter. She writes the champagne, cocktails and entertaining web site The Bubbly Girl.