2018 Domaine Philippe Foreau (Clos Naudin) Vouvray Moelleux Réserve A fruit basket of baked pear, guava, banana, and notes of rosewater and orange blossom. Right now, the sugar dominates a bit. This is a rich and unctuous sweetie, but give it some time. 130 grams per liter residual sugar. 90 2022 – 2032 Jul 2020
By Eric Asimov
Nov. 12, 2020
The end of 2020 is mercifully in sight.
Ordinarily, November and December would be the time for gatherings, parties and celebrations. These are the months when the merchants of sparkling wine earn their keep.
This year? Sigh, and cue the shrug emoji.
We will find ways of commemorating the surreal nature of this year. But give up on sparkling wine? That’s just knuckling under to the forces of darkness.
Sparkling wine is made in just about every winemaking region of the world, in a multitude of styles and from almost any conceivable grape.
In recent decades, we’ve come to accept that sparkling wine can be appropriate for any occasion, not just christenings and ceremonies. All the same, nothing suggests a festive mood better than sparkling wine, even if the parties will be more subdued than usual.
This month we will look at several different sparkling wines, each from a different place and made with different grapes. Here are the three I suggest:
Ferrari Trento Brut Metodo Classico NV (Taub Family Selections, Boca Raton, Fla.) $25
Domaine Huet Vouvray Pétillant Brut 2014 (The Rare Wine Company, Brisbane, Calif.) $32
Recaredo Corpinnat Terrers Brut Nature 2014 (Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York) $33
The Ferrari is produced in northern Italy using the same method as Champagne. It even uses a Champagne grape, chardonnay.
The Recaredo is a cava, though it isn’t called that. Recaredo is like a number of leading Catalonian producers that feel the term “cava” has been diminished by the millions of low-quality bottles turned out every year. It, too, is made using the Champagne method, but with local grapes — xarello, parellada and macabeu, grown in the Penedès.
The Huet comes from the Vouvray region of the Loire Valley and is made of chenin blanc, though not by the Champagne method. Instead, Huet employs the methode ancestrale, like a pétillant naturel. Huet does not use that term, although it calls the wine pétillant in another sense of the word, which indicates that the carbonation is gentler than would be typical in a Champagne-style wine.
If you can’t find these wines, plenty of other choices are available. Other good cava-style wine producers include Gramona, Raventós i Blanc, Mestres, Bohigas, AT Roca, Loxarel and Parés Baltà.
Likewise, if you can’t find the Huet, other good chenin blanc sparklers include François Pinon, Jacky Blot, François Chidaine, Arnaud Lambert and Foreau.
The Ferrari should not be hard to find, but if you can’t for some reason, a lot of other Champagne facsimiles are out there, including Franciacorta in Italy or any number of California sparklers. You could always try a Champagne, too, or go further afield, as with a sekt from Germany or Portuguese sparkling wines.
Drink it with fried chicken, or with pizza. Try it with jamón Ibérico with nuts, or really anything you like. I don’t much like Champagne with caviar — that’s vodka’s reason for being — but if you like, why not? Or just drink it with ceremony.
As for 2020, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Long ago, sweetness in any form was far rarer than today, and it was prized thusly. In our era of ubiquitous corn syrup, junk food, and soda, it is difficult to imagine a world in which sugar was special, and the overall difficulty in selling sweet wines across all markets testifies to that. Still, sweetness in wine—real wine whose sweetness has not been coerced—remains one of nature’s rare gifts. Producing sweet wines requires a grower to be courageous, as she must wait to harvest and risk late-season vagaries of weather, or, in passito-style wines, assume the risk of air-drying fruit for upwards of half a year in her cellar. Sweet wine production requires prodigious effort for feeble yields, which generally then take longer to produce and longer to sell than their dry counterparts.
Our biannual visits with the Foreau clan in Vouvray have developed a certain reassuring rhythm over the many years of our partnership. We convene in the house, toasting with the latest disgorgement of their peerless Brut (which routinely spends at least five years on its lees).
An ideal time to become familiar with our exceptional growers We at Rosenthal Wine Merchant have championed great and distinctive sparkling wines for the entirety of our near-forty-year existence. Since 1981, we have imported the elegant, classical Champagnes of Guy Larmandier in Vertus—long before there was even a “grower Champagne” movement to speak of. We
Tasting wine in the dark, cool cellar at the fabled Domaine du Clos Naudin is one of the greatest pleasures of our grower visits. Philippe Foreau’s ambient cellar was dug beneath his vineyards and formed from the same tuffeau stone that donates its mineral complexity to these remarkable wines. Philippe always comes prepared and sets
“Wednesday (20 Nov 2013) morning was dedicated to Vouvray with stops at Peter Hahn’s Clos de la Meslerie and Philippe Foreau’s Clos Naudin. 2013 was not kind to the appellation: a devastating hailstorm in summer and a rainy late season and cold spring reduced yields and made the growers struggle mightily