All the bubbly fit to drink

The clouds part when the middle of January presents itself. This is of course only in the figurative sense as literally, the weather is quite squalid, but this moment of clarity is due to reaching the end of the “bubbly season”. Do note that this season runs in tandem with regular wine drinking season (which is year-round) so it’s an additional (yet often delicious) duty to take on.

In Spain the holidays run over two weeks, starting with what is Christmas in the US around December 24/25th and ending with January 6th, Three Kings. Trust me, there is much quaffing by parents when the kids tear in to their gifts. Others will have had a great deal more than myself but I sorta save up various bottles over the years to then pull them out with the family and friends and celebrate the year that has been in sparkling form. Given this and memory potentially failing, these were the sparklings had over this period.

  • Armenian Wines Takar Extra Brut 2014
  • Segura Viudas Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2010
  • Castellroig Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2008
  • Moët & Chandon Imperial Rosé Brut NV
  • Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut NV
  • Laurent Perrier Brut NV
  • Nyetimber Cuvée Classic Brut 2010
  • Alta Alella Cava Privat Mirgin Brut Nature 2011
  • Gramona Argent Gran Reserva Brut 2011

The Takar was an interesting wine as I often don’t find Charmat method wines (think Prosecco) terribly interesting but this was a miraculous surprise when I tasted it while in Armenia. It proved to be a wildly-popular crowd-pleaser as well. I’m not sure what magic they’re doing with it although it could just be that the hybrid grape, Kangun, is the ultimate sparkling wine grape to be found. And for 8€, I want to stock up on several cases as soon as I can.

The Segura Viudas and Castellroig were different yet similar. Both are from Cava’s Gran Reserva classification which means a minimum of 30 months of aging on the lees, thus pulling out and extolling the great depths of aromas and flavors capable in Cava but which are rarely experienced due to people going for the cheap, sub-5€ options. The Castellroig I remembered as being a fine wine but I was quite surprised by the Segura Viudas as their still wines, while good for the price, don’t do too much to inspire me. But this Cava was quite refined. I would most likely prefer the Castellroig but when taking in to account the prices (it’s 17€, the Segura Viudas a very unfathomable 9€) you really can’t go wrong and it furthers the question of why on earth anyone would by thse cheap bottles when excellence is so close at hand?

This is especially important when taking in to account the three Frenchies up there from Moët & Chandon and Laurent Perrier. These were all the result of New Year’s Eve and aren’t wines that I regularly seek out. Many people still have it etched in their minds that you must toast in NYE with Champagne despite the fact you’re not getting your money’s worth. All of these wines start at 30€ a bottle and do not in any way outshine anything I’ve mentioned to date. In fact, they’re like roasted duck with prunes. That’s a reliable dish that can be served in fancy settings, but in no way will it ever wow people. I’ve really gotten to the point with Champagne that unless spending upwards of 100€ a bottle, I feel I’m not going to get anything special and these three bottles of very popular wines showed this without question and are part of the reason for my Champagne wine predictions.

I had been hanging on to the bottle of Nyetimber for some time. That wine is great to toss at people used to drinking Champagne or Cava to show them that yes, the British are producing a very proper wine these days. It’s not cheap at around 30£ or so but I feel that with its blue fruit and heath notes, it’s a demonstrably better wine than a Champagne of the same price. This same meal saw the Alta Alella and Gramona wines opened as well just for kicks as the Mirgin is a lovely wine, although completely different from other wines in Cava. This undoubtedly has much to do with the winery and vines being on the sea at Alella than down in Penedès. The Gramona was unfortunately a bit corked (yeah, it can indeed happen to sparkling wines) and I’ve had it shine more in past tastings.

Emerging from the bubbly season is great as it presents the new challenge of rounding up bottles for the next go round. My hardcore, red wine drinking past self would look at my current self and wonder where things suddenly veered strangely, enjoying sparkling wine so much. To this past self I would just say that things veered very much rightly and as they should.


Ancestral Wine Cellar - Khikhvi 2014 95
First harvest of Khikhvi. Light apricot notes, peach skin, lemon peel. Citric in the mouth, fresh, lively acidity, vibrant. Very holistic, full and deliciously good.
100% Khikhvi · 12% · 30GEL
95 3 Stars

Petriaant Marani - Khikhvi 2015 94
Bruised red apple, touch of lemon peel, limestone minerality, and some white pepper notes at the back of it. High acidity and full in the mouth. Luscious, involving, elegant wine.
100% Khikhvi · 14% · 25GEL
94 3 Stars

Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Blanc 2016 93
Lemon and white peach, strong kick of salinity, and toasted notes. Very fleshy and full on the palate, peach notes more prominent as well as Meyer lemon, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish.
100% Grenache Gris · 14.5% · 20EUR
93 2 Stars

AA Badenhorst - Secateurs Red Blend 2012 93
Forest bramble with ripe red fruit, touches of cherry, ripe red plum, tiny bit of prune, cumin, anise, black licorice, wet cement mineral note, underlying fig jam. Crisp medium plus acidity, medium tannins, medium plus length, medium alcohol, overall medium plus body that’s ripe and lively but super fresh and balanced at the same time. Bit of rugged wildness to it but doesn’t get out of hand. Easy to drink but with just enough underlying complexity so that it stays interesting.
56% Syrah 27% Cinsaut 6% Grenache 4% Cabernet Sauvignon 7% "Others" · 13.5% · 12EUR
93 2 Stars

Domaine Treloar - Motus 2015 93
Dark ruby, minor rim. Big, mighty bouquet of red cherry and other brambly forest fruit, vanilla, almond blossom, orange peel, and cocoa. Rich and full on the palate with a wealth of tannins still integrating, leading into a crunchy, lingering finish.
80% Mourvèdre 10% Syrah 10% Grenache · 14% · 14EUR
93 2 Stars

Domaine of the Bee - Cuvée 2015 93
Ruby with minor garnet rim. Rich red fruits with an underpinning of ripe plum, orange peel, licorice, cocoa. Broad, round tannins with a touch of toast and sweet cocoa in a long finish. Manages to stay very light on the palate despite the higher alcohol.
50% Grenache 50% Carignan · 15% · 25EUR
93 2 Stars

Tchotiashvili - Khikhvi 2014 93
Apricot, yellow peach, orange peel, and a touch of honey. Quite complex aromatically. Orchard fruit much more prevalent in the mouth with young apricot notes. Rich and elegant, touch of astringency in the finish.
100% Khikhvi · 13.1% · 28GEL
93+ 3 Stars

Domaine Fontanel - Prieuré 2014 92
Dense ruby with brick flecks. Crisp red fruits, lifted by a waft of volatility making for a light nose with a spicy licorice and leather component. Crisp and lively with red cherry fruit in the mouth and a nudge over medium acidity. Nice, lingering finish.
50% Syrah 25% Grenache 25% Mourvèdre · 14.5%
92 2 Stars

Cave Abbé Rous - Cornet & Cie Blanc 2016 92
Peach, orange peel & blossom, honey, dried apricot, and a hint of green apple. Very nicely balance in the mouth, green apple notes more prevalent, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish. Fresh, lively, very pleasing wine to drink.
60% Grenache Gris 25% Grenache Blanc 5% Marsanne 5% Roussanne 5% Vermentino · 14.5%
92 2 Stars

Clos Henri - Petit Clos Pinot Noir 2016 92
Earthy, red cherries, young, crisp cranberry, light herbal notes, leafy, minor chalk. Medium tannins and medium plus acidity as well as length. Light sweetness on the palate but with a very pleasant, lingering structure and lightness to it.
100% Pinot Noir · 13.5% · 16.50EUR
92 2 Stars