Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Day With The "Stepchildren"

“Are you excited about Saturday?” Ronnie asked me a couple of mornings ago….took me a second to figure out what the heck he was asking about but after a bit of, “Oh shit what did I forget” it dawned on me that he was asking about the tasting I am doing at The Wine Country on Saturday, a focus on California Sparkling Wines or as they are better known around the shop, Sam’s Stepchildren….awww so sad, poor little “Not Champagne” bubblies.

Let me first say that I do in fact like California sparkling wines, I do, they have lovely soft fruit, yummy yeasty notes and dammit I like me my frothy beverages so they already have a leg up on many other wines from California, they may not come home with me as often but I appreciate them for what they are and they will always have a place in my bubbly department. These are not Champagnes….and they should in no way be judged as such, burns my ass when people try and compare them…why…because they look alike? As a full figured, busty blonde I can tell you that being compared to the others that look like me can unleash a wrath like nothing you have ever seen. I don’t pretend to be something I’m not, and the best California sparklers don’t either, they are their own thing and deserve to be evaluated and enjoyed as such.

Used to be that the big selling point on domestic sparklers was price but as with everything else that is less and less the case now a days, I mean Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs is now $35 a bottle but before you go all, “But….but I could drink Champagne for that price” you have to remember that just as much as we respect the wines of place when we are talking about France we should, in the interest of fairness offer that same level of appreciation for the wines, (in this case the bubbly ones) grown in California….right? Okay I just have to call a bit of BS on myself here in a way, I do respect those wines, I understand that they are representations of the terroir in which they were grown but J. Schram at sixty something dollars per bottle and Roederer L’Hermitage at near fifty…nope, sorry it aint in the bottle so I refuse to stock them. I get that they are tete de cuvees but as with any wine I put on my shelf if I drink it and go, “Where the hell do they get off? Are they high?” then it won’t be puffing its over-stuffed chest in our shop…..even if I could find some way to justify the price the second someone asked me what I thought I would tell them…..”Where the hell do they get off” and/or “Are they high?”

So while my domestic sparkling wine section is on the small side, I assure you it is well researched and they are the best that I could find. These are wines that showcase our remarkable climate, responsible winemaking and offer tremendous pleasure in that plushy fruit driven way. So when compiling the wines for this tasting I looked to 4 wineries; Roederder, Schramsberg, Iron Horse and J. I’ve played around with others but these wineries are consistently well made and do in fact pay homage to where they are grown….and dammit as a Francophile and bubble lover that is a twofer in my book. If you are in the area tomorrow between 1 and 4 stop on by, nuzzle up to a bottle of domestic bubbles and your local bubble maven, twenty bucks, ten wines, gooey cheeses and a room full of bubble drinking people…what is not to love?

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