Holiday Sparklers!

What a better way to really celebrate the holiday season than with bubbly! 

If you didn’t attend the ‘Holiday Sparklers!’ mini class that I taught at Cafe Ena in south Minneapolis on Wed, Dec 12th, you missed a good one.  With a great turnout of 40 people, we filled the restaurant with bubbly fanatics from across the Twin Cities.  Knowing that this would be a great subject, truly because my good friend Erin Ungerman (owner/operator of Cafe Ena, El Meson and Indio) and I are big fans of drinking ‘bubbly’ libations when we get together, the hour was a big success.  Wonderful people and great conversation filled the room.  
When we designed the occasion, we wanted to be sure that folks appreciated ‘the bubble’ from more than just its most famous region, Champagne.  With a little slower economy this holiday season, I think it’s important that folks remember that there are plenty of bubbles out there than can be obtained at a very reasonable price without having to go to the traditional ‘Champagne’ region for its kind.  
I started the class with a really fun little sparkle called Toad Hollow Risqué.  Toad Hollow, a winery found just north of Healdsburg, CA in the Sonoma region does have a small allotment of grapes that they utilize from southern France to make this wonderful little wine.  The grape: Mauzac.  The taste: fun, frisky, lite, orangey and fun with appetizers or dessert.  I love this wine because it truly can be used in any course of your dinner.  The zippy, refreshing zest to this wine makes it easy and quaffable for every occasion.
The next wine comes from the region of Veneto, Italy.  Veneto is famous for producing Prosecco, which is truly one of my favorite ‘breakfast of champions’ wine.  Why do I say ‘breakfast of champions’??  Low in alcohol (this one, about 11.5%) and you can easily enjoy a bottle before noon without it ever really affecting you!  The Prosecco that I showed on Wed night was called: Astoria Lounge.  With a creamy mid center of about 10% Chardonnay, this yummy little goody, has a beautifully balanced palate with a crisp apple finish that makes you want for more.  
Center tasting I featured a good stand by- Kenwood Yulupa Sparkling Brut.  This is a good, exceptionally reasonably priced American sparkling.  The grapes:  Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir and Colombard.  The Kenwood is nice because it really does fit any palate.  Rich with ripe fruit, a plethora of pears, apples and peaches take center stage of this delicious goody.  Great with fresh green apples and goat cheese!
Next came a very inexpensive favorite of mine, Segura Viudas Brut Rosé.  The region:  Penedes, Spain.  Cava!  First off, you have to love the pink bubble.  It’s so beautiful with glints of pink and gold running through it.  I love it AND, this one will really make you thristy.  It has this very interesting white pepper stripe to it.  All I could keep thinking of was…paella.  Fresh seafood with a just a zip of spice that will would make the cava come right to life.  Fun!
And…last but certainly, not least…we did feature a very unique Champagne.  While I did start my comments with ‘inexpensive’, I did have to slip in my new favorite.  While it is NOT cheap, it is truly one of the best Champagnes I’ve had in a long time.  Champagne traditionally uses the grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Munier.  The Blanc de Blanc that I featured on Wed nite is made exclusively with Chardonnay grapes.  Labeled the “Haute Couture” of Champagnes, Ruinart is the oldest Champagne house in the world.  And, with its sexy packaging, the bottle that holds it is the oldest style of Champagne vessels.  Very cool.  This wine…completely balanced from top to bottom with a luminous pale gold color is a gorgeous bottle of wine.  Rich, creamy, ripe but very crisp at the same time.  Loads of fun and absolutely delicious, the luxury of this Champagne will have every bubble fan seeing stars. The one and only place I know that it can be found in the retail world is Solo Vino located on Selby Ave in St Paul.  Ask for Chuck and mention that you saw the Champagne featured on my blog page, he’ll set you up. 
So…that’s it.  I will tell you that if you missed it, bummer.  But, there is one more opportunity for you to really experience bubbles with a full tasting – 3 hours of it!
I am teaching one more bubbles class this month at Cooks of Crocus Hill on Saturday, December 20th.  A full three hour class that will feature a number of international bubbles paired with a delicious selection of artisanal cheeses.  With loads of fun sparkling tips and a great array of information, this class is truly always one of my favorites to teach.  If you’re interested in making reservations, visit my WINE EVENTS page on my website for more information and the number to call for reserving your seat.  Seats are limited so act fast if you plan on coming.
The moral of my story: Drink more Bubbles!  They’re good for you and I will tell you, NO ONE can resist them.  And if they do, you should think about choosing new friends.

Comments 4

  1. I’m bummed we weren’t able to get to the Ena tasting, but can’t wait to see you for 3 hours of bubbles in a few days! I haven’t paid too much attention to bubbles outside of Lunetta Prosecco, but I have a feeling that may be changing this weekend…

  2. For those who were tempted to go to the Bubbles class at Cooks but didn’t you definitely missed out. Leslee did a fantastic job talking about the different processes used to make bubbly, the differences between the grapes and regions, and plenty of other little details with all her usual charm, style, and knowledge.
    As for the wines, she did a wonderful job playing the full gambit. She took us from a the Astoria Lounge was a very nice Prosecco, and the Segura Viudas was one of the best cavas I’ve tried so far. They should also be very affordable if found at a restaurant, so I hope a lot of people try them out. The Kenwood was a nice sparkler that was also in the lower price range, but the Segura Viudas was the one that really stood out for me as a great value. She also showed us the high end with Bollinger and yes, the Ruinart, and I don’t think there was a single person who wasn’t impressed. Throw in some nice cheeses and a very interesting goat cheese, a very nice little salad with a champagne vinagrette and a goat cheese fritter, and a little truffle that matched the moscato we closed with amazingly well and you had a night that was well worth braving the weather to experience. Thank you, Leslee!

  3. Looking in the fridge tonight I found a bottle of the Toad Hollow Risque that I popped open as we had a few little appetizers waiting for supper tonight. Fun sparkler, and I can see it working with any course. Thanks for blogging about it because I was really curious as to what the grape was.

  4. Lisa Brown
    Hi Leslie,
    I just wanted to let you know that Mike and I had a really nice evening at Cafe Ena with you and your bubbles selections. I am glad to have finally had the opportunity to meet you, and YES!, perhaps I will see you at one of your classes, another event, or out in the wide, wide world of wine!
    Best, Lisa
    From About Leslee, 2008/12/16 at 10:28 AM

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