The Cellar: Cooling Off With Sparkling Wines

Friday, June 28, 2013


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Nothing combats hot and humid weather (like the kind we have been experiencing lately), like a deliciously chilled sparkling wine. As you know, sparkling wines comes in many different shapes and sizes. Over the years we have covered our fair share of Proseccos, Cremants, Cavas and several other types of sparkling wines from around the world. So this week I will be discussing two sparkling wines you don’t come across every day, unique in their own way and so worth checking out!

NV German Gilabert Cava Brut Nature, Penedez, Spain

This first sparkling wine is a Cava from the northeast Spanish region of Penedez. Cavas are made a way that resembles the ‘Traditional Method’ (the way Champagnes are made) but with very different grape varieties. The base wine that ends up becoming a Cava is a blend made up of three indigenous grape varieties; (50%) Macabeo, (30%) Xarello and (20%) Parellada. At German Gilabert they farm

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their vineyards organically and like to keep things as natural as possible. Among the interesting wines they make is this delicious Cava. Notice the ‘Brut Nature’ on the label? Wonder what that means? Well, get your nerd on because I’m about to tell you:

After having converted all the sugars in the grape juice into alcohol (fermentation) the wine will be bone dry. After the sediment has been removed the winemaker has to decide how dry he wants the finished sparkling wine to be. It is at this stage he will top his wine off with a little sugary base wine (called ‘liquor d’expedition’). This raises the sweetness level of the wine. Sparkling wines labeled ‘Brut’ have between 6-15 grams of added sugar per liter. While many of these wines may come across as completely dry, technically they aren’t. If you want to try the ‘real dry deal’ look for wines labeled ‘Brut Nature’, ‘Extra Brut’ (not to be confused with ‘Extra-Dry’ which is actually quite sweet) or ‘Brut Natural’. These wines have 0-5 grams of sugar in them and can be quite the mouth puckering experience. And this brings us back to the German Gilabert. This is tart and delicious–obviously super-duper dry wine–with fine bubbles and flavors of sour apple and hints of honey. If you’ve never had a Brut Nature wine today is the day!


2011 Mauzac Nature, Domaine Plageoles, Gaillac, France 

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While you are at your local wine merchant, and in the experimental mood, consider picking up something like the 2011 Mauzac Nature from Domaine Plageoles. Despite its rough name and rustic character, the late-ripening Mauzac is nothing at all to be afraid of. Most Mauzac vines are planted in and around the cities of Limoux and Gaillac (in France’s southern Languedoc region) and responsible for making some of the regions famous sparkling wines, including Cremants, Blanquette de Limoux and others. The folks at the 50 acre, 5-generation old family operated Domaine Plageoles also farm organically. The ‘Nature’ on this bottle doesn’t refer to the dryness of the wine (which at 10 grams of sugar per liter would be considered ‘Brut’), but the way they made the wine. They use only wild yeasts for the fermentation and they don't mess with (correct or alter) the wines with enological products. This wine has super concentrated flavors of baked apple and cinnamon (with a squeeze of lime juice at the finish) and is complimented by a creamy texture with fine intense bubbles. This is a must find!


Steffen Rasch is a Certified Sommelier and Specialist of Wine. Feel free to email him at [email protected] with any wine-related question or sign up for one of his tastings through the Providence Wine Academy.


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