A Practical Girl’s Ferrari

In my preteen years, we spent hours playing the game MASH. We fantasized about Ferraris, mansions in Malibu, and our passionate relationship traveling the world with Simon Le Bon. We let the spiral of fate determine our career path and number of children. Gratefully, my life looks very little like the best or worst of what MASH threw at me. I have no desire to tame a rock star and there’s only one kind of “Ferrari” that turns my head. I mean, honestly, where would the booster seats go?

I recently sampled Ferrari sparkling wines* which are produced in the Trento D.O.C. of Italy: Brut, Perlé, and Rose. Both the Brut and Perlé are 100% Chardonnay, the Rose has 60% Pinot Noir. Ferrari was founded in 1902 by Guilio Ferrari. It has been owned by the Lunelli family  for three generations. Ferrari sparkling wines are produced with grapes from the foothills of the Alps employing Metodo Classico.  Sustainable growing practices are a growing focus for the family.

Just because I don’t want to drive a fancy Italian car doesn’t mean I don’t have expensive taste. My favorite of the three wines was the Perlé ($38) which is hand harvested from the family’s own vineyards. Elegant and crisp, great texture, sweeping mid-palate with notes of green apple and integrated yeast. A classic sparkler and a fun alternative to Champagne. The Brut was tasty and I always love pink bubbles but the Perlé was the standout.

I am a Volvo girl. I’ve owned four which range from an ’82 240 to my current ’02 XC70 wagon. Practical, sturdy, safe: a mom car. Yes, I was driving mom cars before I earned the right. But you know what’s great about a wagon? Room for EVERYTHING. Strollers, a big black lab, and cases of wine. And although I can pretty much guarantee there will never be a shiny red sports car in my driveway, I will come home with a Ferrari or two.

*These samples were provided by Gregory White PR as media samples.  I recevied no other compensation and the thoughts and opinions are  my own.

“Sparkle and Shine”

I love Steve Earle.  I first fell for El Corazon, went back to I Feel Alright and then on to Transcendental Blues.  “Ft. Worth Blues” was on repeat as I watched the moon over the Adriatic.  I had people come up to me at the show at La Zona Rosa and say they had never seen anyone so into Steve Earle.  I snuck up front at The Backyard and “Galway Girl” and “More Than I Can Do” always get me moving.  I’ve missed some of the more recent stuff as I don’t dedicate nearly enough time to music these days, but one from 2007 will always be a favorite.

When I think back on my first pregnancy, two songs come to mind.  We chose not to find out the sex, but I knew.  I knew I was having a girl and I sang to her in the car, as I walked, whenever I was alone.  One was Patty Griffin’s ‘Heavenly Day,’ the other was Steve Earle’s “Sparkle and Shine.”  Much of what he writes is rough and tumble and colored with political punches, but when he writes a love song, he writes a long song.  “My baby sparkles and shines and everyone knows she’s mine…”

Who doesn’t want to be described as sparkling?  Sparkling personality, sparkling eyes.  The word connotates vivacity, magnetism.  When we think of celebrations, we want sparkling lights and sparkling wine.

As the year ends, many of us will gather with those that have meant something to us in the past year.  We will look back fondly or bid good riddance to a year we’d rather not repeat.  Either way, the evening should end, or begin, with something that sparkles.

You’ve got choices to make.  Domestic or foreign?  What’s your price point?  What’s the gathering?  If it is intimate, you may choose to have one or two bottles of something splurge-worthy and elegant.  If you’re hosting the whole block, you probably want something that tastes great at a reasonable price so you can pour freely.

I recently received some samples of Cava, sparkling wine from Spain, and Prosecco, bubbles from Italy.  I’ve discovered some new French favorites and some domestic standouts.  Some I have mentioned this year and some are newly tried.  Either way, there is sure to be something here to fit your gathering.

Feeling domestic? Try J Winery Sparkling Cuvee.   Priced in the low $20s, it is affordable and delicious.  Warm pears and citrus. A good compromise between splurge and a save.  Another that falls into that category is Jean Charles Boisset’s JCB bubbles.  The Brut and the Rose are delish and you can find them in the high teens, low 20s.  If you want to try a Texas sparkler, I really enjoyed McPherson Cellars Sparkling Wine with Chenin Blanc and Muscat Canelli.  A great value, too great I am afraid.  It is currently sold out but look for it next year.

Viva  España! There are some great values if you go for Cava.  Some better than others, of course.  One sample of “value” Cava I didn’t care for but it made a great cocktail with grapefruit, pomegranate seeds, and bitters.  I did like the Segura Vidas Brut Rosé ($10)* and was pleasantly surprised by the Freixenet Brut($11)*.  Neither were overly complex but pleasant for sipping.  If you want to bump it up a notch, try the Segura Vidas Reserva Heredad.*  The bottle itself is beautiful.  Pop the cork and find lots of beautiful bubbles, floral notes, apple, citrus and yeast.  Elegant and nicely priced around $25.

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Oui, Oui, Mon Cheri!  Last month I told you about a Cremant that I have a big crush on.  Aimery Sieur d’Arques Cremant de Limoux Rosé.  If you want to splurge on something pink, I’d suggest my birthday bubbles, Chassenay d’Arce, Rosé Brut, Champagne.  It is 65% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay and 100% delicious.  Maybe it was just the fact that I had it with my mom’s strawberry cake, but it was worth every bit of the $45(ish).

Molte Bene In the mood for Prosecco?  A guest favorite in my Moms-coping-with-winter-break Blind Tasting was the Voveti Prosecco.  On the nose, some honey and yeast, good green apple notes and a decent finish.  In general, Prosecco can be a little sweeter than Cava or Cremant.  This one was indeed a little sweeter, but nice with the salty snacks.

Brasil!  For my (cough,cough) 40th, a friend shared this yummy number with me.  Casa Valduga 130 Brut is made using méthode champenoise and was nutty, full-bodied, and tasty.  A unique wine that is sure to be a conversation starter.  How many wines have you had from Brazil?

Now I know when Mr. Earle wrote the song, he didn’t mean “baby” like I meant “baby,” but I’ve got to say, my baby does indeed sparkle and shine. I can’t really think of anything “sparkling” without thinking of that song.  So, while the lede may have you scratching your head still, I hope you still enjoy the song.  2013 has had its challenges, there have been highs and lows, but I have much to be grateful for.  I hope that you will be surrounded by those you love and that there is something delicious in your glass and fabulous in your future.  See you in 2014! Cheers!

*These wines were provided by Janet Kafka and Associates as media samples.  The opinions are my own.

Pas de Deux Sparkles

There are some dishes and desserts that can garner fame.  My mom has always been an amazing cook.  If you know her, and it’s your birthday, you can count on something special.  Especially if you like coconut.  Mention of her coconut cake causes friends and family to audibly sigh.  It is a guaranteed show-stopper, a cake that needs a special partner.

Coconut Cake (sans frosting)

Coconut Cake (sans frosting)

You can’t have a celebration without bubbles.   So when we got together to celebrate my brother-in-law’s birthday, I planned ahead and chilled a bottle of bubbles, Pas de Deux from The Biltmore Estate.  Translated, the name means “a dance for two” and it is, indeed, an excellent partner.

I admit that I was hesitant.  Because this sparkler is considered “sec,” one with a higher residual sugar content, I wasn’t sure if I would like it.  I generally like my bubbles dry, but with the cake, this was perfect.  Pale yellow with a bit of green, lovely little bubbles, and a great nose.  Sweet cream and citrus.  On the palate, intense perfumed fruit.  Maybe tropical?  Guava?  Something round and soft with a citrusy finish.  I thought grapefruit, they say lemon.

It doesn’t take many turns around the dance floor to know if you’ve partnered well.  A great partner makes you spin and shine in ways you didn’t know you could.  The wrong match can lead to bruised egos and toes.  Pas de Deux made an already fabulous cake even better.  I would imagine its dance card would fill up quickly at any celebration.

*{Disclosure: I was provided with these wines from PR Firm, Folsom & Associates. All statements and opinions expressed in this article are my own.}

Something to Celebrate

Tonight we will say goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013. Most of us will celebrate with bubbles and friends. We have been practicing around here. I took a class in sparkling wine recently which was great preparation. Champagne, Prosecco, Domestic, or Cava, there is a bottle for every palate and every price point.

I recently received a sample of sparkling wine from Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. Using the Methode Champenoise, this 2008 Blanc de Blancs is aged 24-30 months before disgorging. This wine has great acidity, citrus and green apple. The bubbles are small and elegant which yield a great texture and finish. If you are wanting to celebrate with a domestic wine, this is a great option. Looking for other options? I’ll get to that.

So what were we celebrating? Well, a few things. One being my brother’s visit. Another being the reason I have not mentioned other specific sparklers. At the end of 2011, I had just begun writing. I had posted maybe a dozen pieces, with most viewed only by friends. In 2012, I have begun receiving samples, have received invitations to fabulous events, and more importantly, have met amazing people in the industry. I have learned so much from them.

With their encouragement and example, I have grown in the social media world, and I am now writing for other publications. So, for other bubbles ideas, head over to Back9Network, a multi-media golf and lifestyle publication, where I have been writing weekly posts on wine and spirits.  So grateful for all of you that have taken the time to read my banter, for all that I have learned, and for the relationships I have made.

Wishing you a fabulous holiday and may 2013 bring you much joy.