Since New Year’s Eve is always grounds to break out #allthebubbles, I decided to blind my friends with a duo recently sent my way.* I wanted to see how the Brut Sparkling would compare with more traditional bubbles being brought to the party. That included Champagnes like Salon and Agrapart & Fils and some exceptional California bubbles like Ultramarine and Dirty & Rowdy’s Traditional Method Pinot Blanc. I only meant to blind them with the Brut, but in order to keep it a secret, I tin-foiled the label of the second bottle, too.
The 2013 Brut Sparkling held up exactly as you would expect a well-made sparkling wine to show. Its bubbles were interlaced with precise apple and citrus flavors made possible from its 100 percent Chardonnay fruit.The acidity provided an astute structure.
But what garnered a lot of chatter and curiosity among the table-full of impressive wines (including a Ridge Merlot, Corison and Dunn Cabernets, a Quintarelli Valpolicella and a magnum of Lapierre Morgon) was a 2016 Pét-Nat Rosé Syrah (yes, you read that right, 2016! It’s meant to be drunk young). As one friend asked after the bottles were revealed: “Who knew Virginia could make a geek wine!” But Early Mountain Vineyards near Charlottesville did!
Everything from its simplistic contemporary and artistic label, to the cloudy salmon color moving through the bottle like a lava lamp piqued our senses and cerebral curiosities.
Made as a Pétillant-naturel (commonly called Pét-Nat), the winemakers cap off the bottle before it finishes its fermentation process trapping the remaining carbon dioxide, creating those tingling tiny effervescent bubbles. You won’t find a cork in these bottles! The active fermentation still happening in the bottle also contributes to its cloudy appearance.
In this particular bottle, I tasted an interesting creaminess that I don’t usually associate with wine. Redish-pink fruit underneath pineapple flavors with a dash of bubblegum were apparent on the palate. The wine was neither sweet nor bitter. Just fun, drinkable juice that had us all happy to be swirling it around in our glass.
* Full disclosure: These bottles were sent to me as samples from the winery. I haven’t stated a sample policy on this blog yet, but I generally have not accepted them until now to keep all posts here as objective as I can. In the event interesting bottles are offered and worth exploring on this blog, I will share it with friends, and let their reactions speak for the wine as I’ve done here.