Blanc de Blancs
The vineyards of Nyetimber share similar characteristics with the best sparkling wine vineyards in the world. Greensand and chalk soils allow the vines to flourish across the south of England in Sussex, Hampshire, and Kent. The planting of the first vines was in 1988 of classic sparkling wine grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Eric Heerema became the Owner and Custodian in 2006 and recruited Head Winemaker Cherie Spriggs and Winemaker Brad Greatrix to share his vision of crafting the finest English sparkling wines that would compete in the world stage. Tasting this beautifully made sparkling wine from England, the results show that Eric, Cherie, and Brad may have achieved their vision.
Made from 100% Chardonnay, sparkling pale golden color and tiny bubbles that rise in the glass. Delicate aromas of a French patisserie, citrus, with floral, vanilla, and toasty tones. The palate is complex displaying ripe orchard fruit of pear and apple, yeasty with a creamy texture, a touch of lemon zest and plenty of minerality and amazing balance. This beautifully crafted Sparkler from England finishes with a freshness that is persistent and long. A wonderful discovery during our tasting that has expanded my world of wines. It is worth seeking out and if you can find it…I would most assuredly give this sparkler a Bit of a Go!
By Perry Miroballi
Traveling from San Diego to Napa Valley in the 1970’s, Jack and Mary Novak were attracted to the Spottswoode Estate, falling in love with the property and the surrounding gardens in St. Helena. In 1972 Jack Novak left his medical practice and moved his young family of five to St. Helena. The Novaks purchased additional acreage and began replanting the vineyards with Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel. Through the years their list of iconic winemakers have grown. Spottswoode has achieved prominence and notable success staying true to their identity, avoiding stylish trends while garnering praise and high scores. The legacy has been continued by daughters Beth Novak Milliken who serves as President and Lindy Novak, who is the national marketing director.
Wine critic Robert Parker Jr. referred to Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon as the Chateau Margaux of Napa. Composed of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot this beauty has all the hallmarks of a great Spottswoode. There is a wealth of lavish black orchard fruits of boysenberry and crushed blueberries. Intertwined within the core are baking spices with hints of black olive and sage. This wine speaks to you in an elegant and a sultry tone with a fresh, silky texture and finely grained tannins.
2012 Moet & Chandon
This international brand was founded by wine trader Claude Moet in 1743 and has evolved into the largest premium Champagne producer. It is part of the expansive LVMH portfolio. Under the guidance of Chef de Cave Benoit Gouez, this house pursues consistency and perfection. One of the more stunning expressions from Moet & Chandon this wine is built on a finesse-driven style. The nose has a faint hint of biscuit followed by Meyer lemon and caramelized yellow citrus fruits which beam from the glass. It is precise, fresh and long.
Donn and Molly Chappellet fell in love with the steep, rocky hillsides of Pritchard Hill in Napa Valley, founding their winery in 1967. Don had a passion for French wines and was a savvy businessman, trusting the advice of iconic winemaker André Tchelistchef on the potential of this mountainside property. The high elevation vineyards were ideally suited for the planting of Bordeaux varietals. In 1967 the couple crafted their first vintage of a Chenin Blanc, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon in 1968. This is a five-decade old family run winery with all six children involved in some aspect of winery operations.
This 100% single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon comes from a secluded parcel on the property at 1,400 feet elevation. It reveals a dark opaque shadow with an aromatic perfume of purple violets and rose petals. Within are elements of dark crème de cassis, and blackberry marmalade laced with notes of roasted espresso bean and chocolate shavings. The tannins are finely woven into this exquisitely crafted Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is extremely approachable at this early stage of development, yet destined for a long future.
Howell Mountain Reserve
Anne and Pat Stotesbery acquired mountainside vineyard property on Mount Veeder in 1996 and later in 2000 purchased acreage on revered Howell Mountain. The couple replanted the vineyards with Cabernet Sauvignon, restoring the winery originally built in 1886.
The 2016 Ladera Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from Howell Mountain vineyard parcels in mineral rich soils that range in elevation between 1,600 and 1,800 feet, above the fog line. The wines are aged in 100% new French oak barrels for 22 months. This youthful wine is well endowed with a lush mouth-feel. There is an abundance of ripe black fruits that emerge from the glass dusted with cocoa and a hint of graphite. This brooding wine is framed with Asian spices and a touch of sweet oak, yet stays in balance with ripe tannins.
2013 Blanc de Blancs
2013 Ayala Blanc de Blancs: The vineyards for this flagship wine from Champagne Ayala are situated in the Ay region of Champagne. It is composed of 100% Chardonnay sourced from premier and grand cru villages in the Cote des Blancs and is only produced in the finest of vintages. The aromas are delicate white flowers and brioche. This finely-tuned Champagne reveals a satiny core of vanilla bean and pastry dough layered with candied citron and ginger. It has fresh acidity and finesse.
Ayala Brut Majeur: Part of the Bollinger portfolio since 2005, Champagne Ayala is one of the oldest houses in Champagne. There are 35 acres of grand cru vineyards within the Ay region of Champagne. A blend of 40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier. It is pale yellow with subtle yeasty notes. This Champagne is elegant and focused yielding tropical elements of lemon meringue and yellow plums. There is a gentle streak of crushed chalk in the core leading to a well balanced finish.