Our hypothesis for why more people do not drink sparkling is that they have been served too much really bad sparkling, the kind that makes you think that you may be drinking battery acid. But, . . . the world of sparkling is wide, and there are some real beauties, like this one from Étienne Simonis. It is wonderfully soft, more a massage for your palate than an attack on it.
From a 7 hectare estate of Grand Cru vineyards (Kaefferkopf and Marckrain) farmed biodynamically by Étienne and Katia Simonis, this Crémant is a blend of Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois. The nose shows a balance between sweet (brioche, pear) and salty. The palate is beautiful, entering with a creaminess accompanied by tiny bubbles that in combination produce an inviting softness that beckons you to have another sip. Just a reminder that Extra Brut is drier than Brut.The Windham Wines tasting team tried this and unanimously and resoundingly exclaimed “yes”!
White and Rosé Recommendations
Pullus, Pinot Grigio, Slovenia, 2020: $15
This is a Pinot Grigio with serious identity. It shows a very pale but decidedly copper-pink hue, the product of 2-3 days skin contact with the “grey” (gris) skins. The wine has a spicy nose and palate, along with stone fruit (pear, peach), a whiff of something floral and that compelling minerality on the finish. It’s a full-bodied wine, an ideal winter white. Four of us tried it and all of us were were so surprised by how much we liked it. You may be too, . . .
Bastide Blanche, Bandol, Rosé, 2020: $26, organic
A blend of Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsault and Clairette and 100% delicious. We just had this with dinner with friends. Eight people tried it, eight people wanted more.
Josh Raynolds, wine critic for Vinous, gave it a 92 with this description: “Taut and energetic in the mouth, offering sappy strawberry, orange zest and lavender flavors braced by a spine of chalky minerality. Finishes silky and impressively long, with repeating mineral and floral notes.”
*Returns to the shop on Friday. We drank the last 2 bottles!
Red Wine Recommendations
Bura, “Fresh,” Plavic Mali, Dalmatia, 2020: $17, organic
Plavic Mali is related to Zinfandel (well, to Tribidrag, which is what Zinfandel is called in its natal land, Croatia) and is often produced in that big, jammy way, but not this wine. Bura’s Plavic “Fresh” comes from berries that are picked early, then partially dried to concentrate the fruit flavors and tone down the acidity. The result is a medium-bodied red with flavors of fig, spice and an elegant minerally finish.
Pesquié, “Terrasses,” Ventoux, 2019: $16, organic
We had a little hiatus from Pesquié when the 2017 did not keep its position in our Southern Rhone offerings, but it is back and beautiful this vintage. Pesquié is located on the lower slopes of Mt. Ventoux which, through a combination of altitude and wind currents, is a decidedly cooler appellation than most of the Southern Rhone. Less intense heat and cool nights allow the berries to ripen more slowly and retain their acidity. A blend of 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah, the 2019 displays aromas of raspberry and blueberry fruit, a whiff of lavender and something invitingly earthy, a combination of herb and spice, and a pretty minerality on the finish.