This month, the LBV Wine Club kicked off its Summer Series with special guest Julia Coney, Wine Journalist and founder of Black Wine Professionals. Black Wine Professionals is a resource for lifting up and highlighting Black professionals in the wine industry.
My takeaway from Julia’s tasting was huge. She has created a platform where learning and inclusion are the norms rather than the exclusivity the wine industry is known for. Just being in her presence puts you at ease as she guides you through each bottle, story, and sip, which you can catch a glimpse of yourself at juliaconey.com. It is important to highlight the role models for the future of diversity and inclusion in wine—and that is the kind of community I want to be a part of. What an honor to have been able to hear the perspective of such a huge force in wine today.
I think we all can look back to a time when a bottle of Champagne or Sparkling wine was just for a special occasion, but in these post-pandemic times, I think more and more of us have come around to feel that if we want to drink Champagne in the middle of the week—or the middle of the day—it’s absolutely fine. We have been through enough to know to just drink what we want, whenever we want! Life is short and Bubbles help.
Julia curated a delicious line-up of bubbles for our tasting. Sparkling wine and Champagne are always a part of the conversation with Julia. With the slight hiss of bottles popping in the background, we were suddenly in Julia’s world, and we were all rolling with laughter. Julia started to talk of bubbles and specific potato chip pairings, and quickly we could all comfortably confess our own secret snack food pairing. The next move was to get us all on the same page as far as glassware. Julia encouraged us to get a white wine glass as opposed to a champagne flute. A few members put the glassware to the test: they poured the same sparkling wine into both a flute and a white wine glass and now the moment of truth—yes the aromatics were different, and how the bubbles expressed themselves were different. As to what’s better, that comes down to personal preference. I like my bubbles in a white wine glass, with a larger surface to enhance the aromas, similar to the concept of the original coupe glass.
The coupe glass was designed in 1663 for sparkling wine & champagne, supposedly modeled after the left breast of Queen Marie Antoinette. I can recall seeing these glasses in the back of many china cabinets and yard sales during my youth. The Champagne flute as we know it today started popping up after the mid-1950s, with the allure of keeping the bubbles longer. The coupe fell out of fashion and by the ’90s the flute was all you could find. For tradition's sake, I do like to have Champagne flutes around, but my everyday move is to use a white wine glass or an All-Purpose glass, specifically for capturing all the aromas that arise. There is a glass that resonates with each person, and one thing we know at LBV Wine Club is, if there isn’t a glass, just drink from the bottle.
Wines From Our Tasting:
Carboniste Corralitos Brut, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA. 2018:
Winemakers Dan and Jacqueline Person met in enology school. Their shared love of sparkling wine led to the creation of the label Carboniste Modern Sparkling Wine. Their wines were inspired by Champagne, but they want to stay very rooted in where they are, California.
This fun interpretation of California sparkling wine showcases the place—the fruit in this wine is very round and playful. Corralitos Brut is an expression of a unique growing area of the Santa Cruz Mountains that produces aromatic fruit ideal for this sparkling wine. This growing area is very specific due to the sandy soils and the influence of Monterey Bay. The blend is 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. Whole cluster press after harvest and fermentation in barrel lasts for up to three weeks. For this wine, the sediment was kept in the barrel along with the wine for nine months, then the wine was bottled with fresh yeast and a small amount of sugar. After spending nine months in the bottle, the yeast had consumed the sugar, the sediment was removed, and a small amount of sugar and wine were added back in (called Liqueur d’expedition, this process adds back a degree of sugar post-fermentation to balance the wine). The next and final step is unique, and it brings a domestic element of fun to the wine: the wine is closed with a crown cap, like the kind of cap used for beer, instead of a traditional cork and wine cage. Jacqueline and Dan say this is a safe and easy way to open sparkling wine—it's trusted across the world to age wines before disgorging.
After I removed the crown cap this wine came alive. The perlage was active and added a nice creamy mouthfeel. Lots of fruit was under all those bubbles—stone fruit, caramel, almonds, and a slightly salty finish. This wine was such a pleasure to watch unfold, no wonder the wines are mostly sold out. The demand for this visceral very California wine is no secret!
A.R. Lenoble, Champagne Brut Intense Mag 17:
This was a showstopper. A.R. Lenoble is one of those rare grower-producer gems in Champagne that has been family-run for around 100 years. Antoine Malassagne is the fourth generation to completely own and manage A.R. Lenoble and his first vintage was in 1996. His philosophy is to highlight the Grand Cru Chardonnay from the village of Chouilly as much as possible. This wine was relabeled Intense Mag with a number attached to indicate the base wine. This delightful entry-level Champagne that over-delivers on all aspects, is made of Chardonnay from Grand Cru Chouilly, Pinot Noir from Premier Cru village of Bisseuil and Pinot Meunier from the Damery in the Marne; and the rest is from a perpetual reserve, some aged under light pressure in magnum, some aged in oak. All of these elements plus a lot of care go into crafting this Champagne that just dazzles on the palate with an elegant complexity. Notes of lemon peel, green apple, and hazelnuts kept me very engaged with this Champagne, but what kept luring me back was the texture. I was enjoying this Champagne on its own, but food pairings are always part of the conversation, and I have to say I went through a list of Italian dishes, Thai, American, French, etc., and felt this would go with just about anything—including a thick-ridged Lay potato chip if you want to get real.
If you would like to buy these two wines please contact Shiraz Noor at Acker Wines. LBV Social Club members get a discount through our partnership!
Claire Paparazzo is an LBV Social Club member who also leads some of the Club's wine tastings. This is her reflection on the tasting that took place on May 20th, 2021. Find her on Instagram at @clairepaparazzo and @wineifyouwantto.
First photo via Pinterest
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