pardon the Don Ho flashbacks….
Mr WineOH and I headed over to Lago for a Bubbles tasting with a Northeast Ohio wine group. What better way to spend a chilly Sunday afternoon than sipping on some bubbles and meeting new friends!
Our hosts were Mindy and Alice from WineTrends, an Ohio distributor – so all of the sparklings we tasted are available in the Cleveland Metro area. John from Lago was gracious enough to open the doors early for the group – and provide us with appetizers. This restaurant specializes in northern italian cuisine and has a nice by the glass list. They also have a lovely patio with live music on warm days.
Now, on the the Bubbles!
We started with Zardetto Prosecco – this one is aged in stainless steel. Any sparklings produced in Italy after 2009 must be from Prosecco to be CALLED Prosecco, otherwise, it is called Glara – much like the limitations placed on french wines, including Champagne. See more about that here.
The Zardetto is 95% Prosecco and 5% Chardonnay – we found crisp acidity and green apple flavors. Its floral on the nose, and soft on the palate. We got to this one a bit warm, which presented as flat. This one is bone dry, compared to other proseccos you’ll find. At $12.99 – I place it high on the QPR scale.
Dr. L Sparkling Riesling was next on the menu – 100% pure Riesling from one of the most accessible German producers. The Dr. L is another stainless steel sparkling, called “Sekt” in Germany and is produced using the Charmat method. The secondary fermentation is done in a pressurized tank, producing smaller, longer-lasting bubbles; as opposed to Methode Champenoise, where secondary fermentation is in the bottle. If you are curious about this process, read more here.
The Dr. L was definitely bubble heavy, almost too heavy on my palate. Even the finish had a strong effervescence. I got stone fruit on the nose, and some banana on the palate. It is an interesting and affordable sparkling at $11.99.
We then headed to the Arroyo Grande Valley in California, tasting Laetitia Brut Rosé – this one is produced in small batch tanks – medium bubbles and elegant fruit, mostly strawberry – showing off the Pinot Noir base, and a niggle (that’s a technical term) of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. If you like pink bubbles, you’ll like this one, as it’s an easy sipper, though I could see it an easy pairing with chicken or fish. Selling at $19.99, I’d put it midrange on the QPR scale.
Next on the trip was Victoria, Australia, with Taltarni Brut Taché. Made from 54% Chardonnay, 36% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier – this sparkling is elegant, floral and has just the right amount of bubbles for me. according to the winemaker’s notes, the pink hue is achieved by adding a hint of red wine liqueur to the finished wine at disgorgement. Strawberry and floral on the nose, I got less of the Pinot Noir in this one. The mouthfeel was luscious and the complex yeast characters typical of well made sparklings were obvious. At a local price of $29.99, its a bit lower on the QPR scale, but I found it online for around $23. I think its worth that price.
We had to spend some time with the French bubbles of course, which means the prices get well…. pricey!
The Ayala Brut Zero Dosage was the first of the French champagnes, and is a lesson in how champagne is made. Champagne spends many months, sometimes years maturing in bottle on its yeast lees. At the end of this time, the wine is ‘disgorged’, meaning the yeast lees are removed. A final ‘dosage’ – a wine/sugar solution – is added immediately afterwards, which gives the wine the level of dryness/sweetness required by the cellar master.
This is a zero dosage champagne and with no residual sugar, an extremely dry wine.
40% pinot noir; 40% chardonnay; 20% pinot meunier – a delicate effervescence, distinct fruitiness and a long finish.
This was my favorite of the tasting… but as MamaWineOH would remind me. I can walk into a store and fall in love with the most expensive item, without looking at the pricetags.
This champagne retails at $49.99.
The Champagne J Lassalle was the grower champagne of the event. It is grown and produced by three women at this family owned Champagne house in Chigny-Les-Roses in the heart of the Montagne de Reims, Champagne, France. This is a Kermit Lynch import selection, and one of impeccable taste. A blend of 60/40 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, it is a distinctive Premier Cru Champagne. Fruity and soft, dry and beautifully structured with a long finish – a champagne to truly sip and enjoy. This bottle would work perfectly for any special occasion and is available from fine wine merchants in Cleveland. It retails for $49.99.
The tasting was lovely, and bubbles are a great way to spend an afternoon. I love Lago Restaurant in Tremont – but there was not a lot of thought put into the pairings on the appetizers. One of the apps was heavy onion – which can do some serious damage to the palate, particularly when tasting the delicate flavors in champagne.
The price was right at $30 for this tasting. I’d just as soon have had a bit of brie and crackers to nibble with the bubbles though.