Wine Wonderings – Bubbles and All Things Briny

oysters-champagne2Sometimes you need to treat yourself to something special – just because.  And what could possibly make you feel more special than a glass of something bubbly?  Come on, you know what I mean.  You keep a bottle of bubbly in the fridge in case something “special” happens, or an unexpected important guest shows up.  Don’t you?  And for many of us, that bottle sits there, day after day, week after week, and you keep telling yourself, “One day”, but you never let YOU be that special guest, and you never let TODAY be that “special” something.  Well, my friends, that needs to change!

Recently we had the chance to indulge our palates with an evening of Champagne & Oysters at one of our very favorite haunts, The Bavarian Inn, in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.  We’ve enjoyed some of the most wonderful wine and food pairings at The Bavarian Inn, and that evening, like so many others, was just fabulous.  On the menu was a selection of seven sparkling wines, and a variety of delicious dishes from the sea and land.dibon-cava-nv

We started our trip around the sparkling wine world with Bodegas Pinord Dibon Brut Reserve Cava, NV, from Spain.  The extra fine bubbles popped from this wine’s pale surface and released aromas that were filled with clean apple and just a hint of citrus.  This wine has a pleasant, reserved acidity, and the finish was short with a hint of mineral.  All in all, a very nice wine.  The citrus let this wine pair just wonderfully with curried deviled eggs.

masuretproseccoFrom Spain our wine experience took us to the Treviso hills of Italy.  We indulged in a glass of Marsuret Prosecco DOC Treviso, NV.  This wine gave us creamy feel and light apple and pear aromas that included just a hint of floral.  Oddly enough, there was a slight hint of Parmesan cheese on the nose as well.  As peculiar as that sounds, it worked very well.  This wine had a clean, short finish, and went very nicely with the sweetness of lightly friend scallops, and stood up to the herbed tartar sauce.

LSN570_NV_phMoving up into Germany, our next glass of bubbly was Loosen Brothers Dr. L. Riesling Sekt Mosel, NV.  This wine had quite a bit of pear on the fruity nose, which was so very nice.  The lingering acidity was particularly enjoyable, as was the modest finish.  The acidity made this wine a great accompaniment to the subtle saltiness of the oyster bisque.df-gruet-blanc-de-noirs_300

After spending time so many delicious European sparkling wines, it was time to try something a little closer to home.  Our hosts poured Gruet Winery Blanc de Noirs, NV, from New Mexico.  What?  New Mexico?  Really?  YES!  And it was just delightful!  This pale salmon sparkling wine is 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay, and exudes creamy pear and light berry aromas, accented by a slight bitter lemon.  This wine also lends a slight nuttiness to its earthy, modest finish.  This bubbly was just delicious with an olive and herb focaccia bread.  We since shared this find with friends, and they’ve loved it too.  It’s on our list of must-haves for parties, and is a tremendous value.

hugo_rose2009Heading back over to Europe, our trip around the sparkling wine world led us to Weingut Huber Hugo Sparkling Rose, NV, from Austria.  This wine is a lovely blend of Zweigelt and Pinot Noir, and offered up lovely strawberry and fresh raspberry aromas with just a tiny bit of floral accent.  The acidity was very nicely balanced, and counter-balanced with slight earthiness and minerality.  This wine had a modest and pleasant finish, and paired very nicely with caviar as well as fresh raw oysters.fitz-ritter-riesling-sekt

From Austria our trip took us back to Germany, with Fitz Ritter Extra Trocken Riesling Sekt, NV.  This wine comes from old vine Riesling, and offers up much of the fruitiness that we expect from an off-dry Riesling.  What was particularly intriguing, however was the distinct aroma of a creamy rice pudding that also mingled with the fruit.  It was unexpected, and delightful.  The acidity was very nice, and let this wine pair very well with fresh fruit and an assortment of cheeses.

degeorgisOur evening was quickly drawing to a close, and what would be more appropriate than to finish off with something sweet.  Our trip took us back to Italy for one final sparkling experience.  Our last wine was DeGiorgis Moscato d’Asti, 2012, from the Piedmont region.  This is a fruity and sweet wine with amazing aromas of guava and mango.  Despite its sweetness, it had a wonderful, persistent acidity that balanced the sweetness and let the flavors just shine.  This wine easily pairs with fruit and light custard, but you can enjoy it all by itself as a sweet end to a fabulous meal.

Every wine we tasted that wonderful evening was delicious in its own way, and every single one was reasonably priced, and within reach for those “special” occasions, like a Friday night after a long week, a Tuesday night after a tough day, when a friend stops by and wants to treat you to pizza, or went you want something fun to have when watch your favorite movie.  So open the fridge, grab that bubbly, and make today special.  You deserve it!

Dr. Heidemanns-Bergweiler – 2011 Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Spatlese

HB Spatlese

For some unknown reason, I rarely include Rieslings on my list of wines to taste.  Perhaps it’s that the wine world has this love-hate relationship with Rieslings, which, in my opinion, is unfounded.  I know that some of you have a love-love relationship with them, and I commend you – “Riesling” has become such a generic word for an amazingly wide range of wine experiences – it hardly does justice to everything that is out there under the name.

We had a little late summer gathering this evening, and wanted something cold and crisp, but decidedly fruity.  My personal bias is that I’ve tended to always stick to dry whites, so I was almost reluctant to open this semi-sweet, fruit forward wine.  Ah, but shame on me….open it I did, and I was so very nice.  The aromas of gooseberry, passion fruit and pineapple were lovely.  The flavors matched well, with a little vanilla creaminess mixed into the fruit.  The acidity was modest but remained crisp enough to offer a light, fruity finish without cloying sweetness.  This wine was just perfect  with our lightly spiced grilled shrimp.  I have no doubt I’ll revisit this wine very soon.

 

Gerd Anselmann – 2009 Pfalz Dornfelder

If you’ve never experienced a German red wine, you really should, even if it’s just to say that you have.  I took my leap into German reds with this little number – unsure of what I would experience, but as always, hoping for the best.  The cork practically burst out of the bottle, and I got a distinctively fruity whiff from the cork.  Not bad at all.  I poured a tasting and was happy to discover a very cherry aroma with notable florals.  I also noticed an ever so slight hint of coffee.  My first sip was very nice.  Medium-bodied and very silky, this wine went down very easily.  There was no alcohol heat, and tannins were very low.  The flavors of tart cherry were true to the expectations I had from the aroma.  The bottle indicated that serving it very chilled was best, but I drank it at cellar temperature, which I think was a good choice.  Any colder and the nice aromas would have been suppressed.  I wouldn’t characterize this wine as very complex at all, but it was mellow and drinkable – perhaps a nice wine to explore if you tend to prefer white wines but want to start experiencing reds.  We enjoyed this wine with a variety of herbed and roasted vegetables, and a hearty bread.