Browsing Tag


Sparkling Wine

Celebrate New Year’s Eve with the Best Bubbly of 2011

December 31, 2011

Vouette et Sorbée is a biodynamic grower champagne house in the Aube that's becoming a sommelier favorite.

It’s hard to believe another year is coming to a close! As we get ready to welcome 2012, I can’t help but think back to all the delicious champagnes and sparkling wines I’ve enjoyed this year.

Here’s some of the bubbly that I’d love to taste one more time as the calendar changes:

NV Vouette et Sorbée Saignée de Sorbée

I heard about this grower champagne house in the Aube from both Christine Dufault and Rajat Parr while interviewing them for a story this year. I was thrilled to get to taste the range at the Arlequin Champagne Tasting. Each of the wines had a singular quality; the Blanc de Argile is extremely lean and austere, while the Saignée de Sorbée is a bold wine, extra-brut with flavors of plum, strawberry, minerals and smoke. About $88.

Champagne Lanson Black Label has a bright crisp quality balanced by the right hint of French champagne toastiness.

NV Champagne Lanson Black Label

I first tasted Champagne Lanson at the Grand Champagne Tasting at the Fairmont Hotel this spring, and rediscovered it again this winter after meeting Lanson Managing Director Paul Beavis. I love the way Lanson Black Label has a bright and fresh quality mixed with an edge of toastiness that to me says fine champagne. According to Beavis, the difference is that Lanson is made without malolactic fermentation, so the acids in the champagne stay bright and crisp, like a green apple. About $40

Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs tastes even better at the winery's Sonoma County tasting room overlooking the vineyards.

NV Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs

I love blanc de noirs  – sparkling wines made from a mix of pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes – for the way they showcase the flavors of those red grapes. This style is extremely food-friendly as well, working with richly flavored dishes like salmon, pork or lamb. Every time I taste the Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs, it delights me with hints of strawberry, baked apple and white flowers.  About $14.

Schramsberg's first wine release was the Blanc de Blancs and it remains one of their best offerings.

Schramsberg 2008 Blanc de Blancs

Jack and Jamie Davies’ Schramsberg was the first U.S. winery to make a méthode champenoise blanc de blancs, which is crafted from chardonnay grapes. It’s still one of the best, with a 2008 vintage that’s vibrant with flavors of citrus balanced by a richness from two years on the yeast. This wine became internationally known in 1972 when then President Nixon served it at Toast for Peace in Beijing, China. About $25.

Four bottles of Krug Grande Cuvée on ice - what a beautiful sight!

NV Krug Grande Cuvée

With its blend of youthfulness and age, simplicity and complexity, each time I taste Krug Grande Cuvée, it inspires me. A tasting at the Hotel Vitale was even more memorable by the opportunity to meet the charming Maggie Henriquez, CEO and President of Champagne Krug. About $135

Food + Recipes

Parmesan Toasts – A Champagne-Perfect Snack for #Let’sLunch

July 8, 2011

As the hostess of The Bubbly Girl, it’s probably no surprise that I think about enjoying champagne and sparkling wine a lot. But many people are surprised to learn that these effervescent wines are perfect for pairing with all kinds of foods.

When people hear the word “champagne,” high-end fare like caviar, lobster and cracked blue crab comes to mind. Those are all delicious with champagne and it’s sparkling sisters. But so are a range of foods that aren’t so high-falutin.

Potato chips, popcorn, french fries – basically anything salty, slightly greasy or crispy is wonderful with champagne and sparkling wine.  Pizza and prosecco is fabulous. A juicy burger can be deliciously paired with a sparkling wine, as long as it’s got some gravitas from long-aging or richness from pinot noir.

The recipe section of The Bubbly shares recipes for seasoned popcorn, savory cheddar shortbread and all sorts of foods that play well with bubbly. When I was invited to contribute a recipe to the #Let’sLunch champagne-friendly snacks lunch, I wanted to do something new and easy.

I kept thinking of the ghetto-gourmet spread I made for grilled corn on the cob this past weekend. The mix of mayonnaise, grated parmesan, seasoned salt and chili powder was exquisite on corn — and tasted pretty good by itself.  I thought this slightly salty, slightly rich spread would taste even toasted on a baguette. You’ll find these Parmesan Toasts are perfect with sparkling wines of all kinds and they couldn’t be easier to make.


Parmesan Toasts

1/4 cup mayonnaise

4 tablespoons grated Parmesan (the crumbly kind)

seasoned salt, to taste

dash of paprika

1/4 French baguette, cut into thin rounds

Mix the mayonnaise, Parmesan, salt and paprika in a small bowl to make a uniform paste. Spread the mixture onto the baguette rounds, so you can’t see through to the bread.

Toast under a broiler – watching them carefully – until golden brown.

Eat while warm with your favorite bubbly.

© 2011 Maria Hunt aka The Bubbly Girl.

Sparkling Wine

Bubbly Girl Drink of the Week: Iron Horse Wedding Cuvée

May 8, 2009
Iron Horse Wedding Cuvée is a blanc de noirs style California sparkling wine, meaning its made from dark skinned grapes - pinot noir in this case.

Iron Horse Wedding Cuvée is a blanc de noirs style California sparkling wine, meaning the pale wine is made from dark skinned grapes - pinot noir in this case.

In case you hadn’t noticed, May wedding season is in full bloom.  Champagne and sparkling wine are classic beverages for this celebratory season, but few seem as appropriate as Iron Horse’s Wedding Cuvée.  The peachy pink wine is ideal whether you’re looking for a wedding toast or a sparkling wine to give as a wedding present along with a pair of champagne futes. Crafted from pinot noir grapes with a hint of chardonnay, the Wedding Cuvée has a soft richness to it with a hint of fruit at the end.

Joy Sterling, who runs her family’s winery, says she always loves the moment when she pours Wedding Cuvée at tastings.  “Everywhere I go I meet people who became engaged over it, had it at their wedding, in the delivery room and for anniversaries,” Sterling says.  I like sipping it on its own, but the wine also shines with salmon in a spring preparation with morel mushrooms and wild spring onions. It would also be delicious with lighter pork dishes or this soup made from the wild onions called ramps  Sterling says she enjoys it with bittersweet chocolate with a high cocoa content – she swears the combination is like eating chocolate-covered strawberries.

Iron Horse's open air tasting over looking the vineyards is the scene for the new After Hours Friday wine and food pairing. (Photo Iron Horse Vineyards)

Iron Horse's open air tasting over looking the vineyards is the scene for the new After Hours Friday wine and food pairing. (Photo Ion Horse Vineyards)

If you happen to find yourself with a free Friday afternoon in Sonoma County, then reserve a spot for Iron Horse’s After Hours, a new happy hour with wine and food pairings. It’s available for up to 30 people from 5:30 to 7 p.m. every Friday through October.  To make a reservation, contact tasting room manager Lisa Macek at (707)887-1507 or email her at