Make Your Valentine's Day Sparkle

schug1Wine wise there are two ways I'd recommend going this year for Valentine's Day, sparkling or sweet. I recently tasted through a dozen Sparkling Wines, and I'm going to cover my three favorites here today. Next week I'm going to do look at the dessert wines I recommend. However if a cocktail is more your speed, take a look at Gabe's Cocktail View, where I've got a recommendation for one of those too. The first Sparkler is from Schug Carneros Estate. I've tasted and written about a number of their wines in the past. I was excited to find out what their Sparkling Wine was like as they have impressed me across the board in the past.

The Schug 2005 Rouge de Noirs is 100% Carneros Pinot Noir. After fermentation, this wine was aged for 18 months before being disgorged. 617 cases were produced and the suggested retail price is $30.

Black cherry is the dominant fruit in this wine. It makes its presence known from the first whiff you take through the palate. Yeasty brioche like notes also play a significant role and really add to the texture and appeal of this wine. In the finish the cherry notes take a turn and add a pleasing sour bite along with an undercurrent of creaminess.

What impressed me most about the Schug Rouge de Noirs is that it provides a fine balance of elegance and substance. It manages to be both delicate and firm. I found it to be good to pair with more substantial foods than the average sparkling wine. I had it with Veal Valdastano and was quite pleased with how well they worked together.

The second Sparkling Wine is from Clos La Chance. This San Martin California producer is another whose wines I've looked at several times with amberconsistently satisfying results.

The Clos La Chance 2005 Amber's Cuveé is produced with  a 50/50 split of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes from Legan Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The grapes were grown specifically for the production of Sparkling Wine. This wine was aged for close to 2 years before being disgorged. 350 cases of Amber's Cuveé were produced. The suggested retail price is $40.

Pouring Amber's Cuveé into a Champagne Flute I was immediately hit with strong aromas of orchard fruit. Those flavors along with a bit of nectarine and lemon peel continue through the palate where they are also complemented by an intense yeasty biscuit undertone. This wines finish is long and filled with varied nut and pie crust notes. These are also accompanied by nutmeg spice and mineral notes.

What I like best about Amber's Cuveé is that it's precisely the style of Sparkling Wine I enjoy drinking either alone or with breakfast foods. The yeast and pie crust components really provide the sort of complexity that excites my palate when I sip Sparkling Wine by itself. I also feel it'll provide a nice complement if you decide to prepare a Brunch for your Valentine this year. The 14th does fall on a Saturday.

simonsig_brut_rose_bottleTaking a sharp turn away from California, the third sparkling wine I'm recommending is from South Africa. Simonsig Family Vineyards is based in Stellenbosch.

The 2007 Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brute Rosé  was produced from a combination of Pinotage (90%) and Pinot Noir (10%).  10,000 cases of this wine were made and the suggested retail price is $29.99.

The Simonsig Brut Rosé  has a lovely salmon hue. The nose brings to mind both raspberry and mineral characteristics. Throughout the palate both raspberry and wild strawberry come to the forefront, underscored by white pepper spice notes. Fruit tart shell notes emerge in the dry finish which is lengthy and ends with a tingly flourish. All of these characteristics are framed by good acidity.

My lasting impression of the Simonsig Brut Rosé  is that it's a delicate wine layered with subtle elegance. Here's a wine I would pair with lighter foods. White meats, entrée salads, and soft mild cheeses are all good bets.

This trio of Sparkling wines stood out to me for a variety of reasons. Each of them is unique. The Schug will pair with the more substantial foods, and to my palate benefits the most from being paired. The Clos La Chance is the choice for drinking on its own. And finally the Simonsig is somewhere in the middle. It'll be a nice match for lighter fare and also drinks pretty well by itself. In each case, I enthusiastically recommend them.

Coming Next Week: A Look at Dessert Wines for Valentine's Day!