For this month's tasting theme, Brenda from Culinary Fool asked for entries on sparkling wine, i.e. NOT Champagne, since wines bearing the official Champagne appellation was tackled earlier this fall.
She's no fool. In fact, Culinary Fool is replete with great information pertaining to sparkling wine, and Brenda's WBW theme is backed up with a five-part debriefing that's instructive and well-organized. So by all means, spend some time with the many useful directions the links above will take you.
Brenda also asked for specific details on the sparklers that participants open, including a practical categorization she's set up for us called Party Sparkler, Special Sparkler or Dud. Since my participation stemmed from an actual, fairly festive get-together I had on the weekend, hitting the Special category was the aim. To make sure they were Special, my guests and I went with known quantities. We got bottles we knew were worthy of the occasion and they did not disappoint. (They also could fit into another WBW category called "Mmmmm... those yummy cuvées have lots of M's" but I digress...)
The sparkling wines we had were: Monmousseau Cuvée J.M. Touraine Mousseux 2002 and Mumm Cuvée Napa Brut Prestige NV (NV stands for non-vintage though "Napa Valley" would be applicable here). The repetitious M's (I count seven) were incidental, but these bottles sure were yummmmmmmy. Okay, enough word play.
First up was the 2002 J.M. Monmousseau. Not only it is a reliable brand, its affordable price makes it crossover categories from Special to Party. It was packed with fruit and refreshment. One guest gravitated to it because it was so cooling and refreshing. It was great with salmon and spinach mousse.
A Chenin Blanc sparkling wine from Touraine in the Loire Valley in France.It was followed by the non-vintage Mumm, which is a Champagne House, but here operating out of California's Napa Valley, far far away from Champagne. It was quite different from the first bottle, thought they both were made using the traditional method. From the moment we poured out the Mumm, we noticed the light salmon colour. And it tasted creamier, yeastier, and generally less fruit-driven but thoroughly delicious.
A Pinots-Chardonnay blend sparkling wine from the Napa Valley in California. PHOTOS: CATHY CHAMPAGNEObviously grape composition set these sparklers apart and gave them quite different profiles. The Chenin Blanc was dry and citrusy, the Pinot Noir-Pinot Meunier-Chardonnay was rich and nutty. I've never done a blind tasting on sparkling wine before, but I am sure anyone could distinguish these two blind.
Montrichard, Loir & Cher, France. 12%. Rutherford, California, U.S.A. 12.5%.