December 27, 2011
Whether true or just a bit of wishful folklore, champagne was reportedly first cooked up by the French Benedictine monk Pierre Perignon (c. 1638-1715). When Dom Perignon first tasted his concoction, he is reported to have said, "Come quickly, I am drinking the stars!" These many years later, nothing says Happy New Year quite like sparkling wine. But you don't have to serve the vintage that bears Dom Perignon's name to have an experience worthy of seeing stars. It can be a daunting prospect to determine what really is great to serve at a party or give as a gift.
December 21, 2005
Mumm's Napa Valley operation is one of the more successful spinoffs of a French Champagne house, and in this wine it demonstrates an uncanny ability to mimic the character of Champagne using Napa Valley fruit. This wine is yeasty, elegant, cutting and complex - at a more-than-competitive cost, given its high quality. It pops with flavors of nuts, pears, bread and vanilla, and the texture is creamy until it reaches an appropriately crisp finish. Serve with --caviar, smoked salmon, shellfish
December 27, 1995
Anybody who is ever tempted to underestimate the power of American ingenuity should consider the case of California sparking wine.Two decades ago, the suggestion that California would ever produce bubbly rivaling the quality of fine Champagne would have been seen as ludicrous.Only a handful of sparkling wine specialists existed in the state, and except for Schramsberg, none received nor deserved much respect.True, some Champagne houses were beginning to develop California operations to supplement their French production, but these ventures were regarded primarily as an attempt to capitalize on their famous names.
November 7, 2001
When drinking California sparkling wine, sometimes it's hard to tell whether your flute is half-empty or half-full. The wines have certainly come a long way since serious producers started using Champagne grape varieties and the painstaking methode Champenoise -- fermentation in bottle -- in the 1960s and 1970s. But while many of these wines try very hard to copy the style that made Champagne deservedly world-famous, few truly succeed. A good number come reasonably close, while many more aren't even in the ballpark.
July 15, 2011
Ray Brasfield, owner of Cygnus Wine Cellars in Manchester, describes the Chancellor red wine grape as an old French-American hybrid that been grown in the eastern United States since the 1960s. "It has kind of come and gone as a popular grape, although at one time it was the most widely planted red grape in France," Brasfield said. "But there really isn't much of it planted in Maryland," he added. Though Chancellor's popularity has ebbed and flowed, Brasfield hit a fresh note with it when he used it for one of his most recent vintages of sparkling wine Cygnus's Royele Rose' de Noir Brut Rose, released in December, was hand-made exclusively from first pressings of Chancellorsville grapes, grown just up the road from Manchester, at Quail Vineyard, in the rolling hills of northeasternCarroll County.
December 1, 1999
Many people have decreed that the new millennium does not begin until Jan. 1, 2001. The killjoys.They don't have to worry about opening a once-in-a-lifetime bottle of luxury champagne this New Year's. It's just another Jan. 1, fit for a decent splash of bubbly but not a burst of extravagance.Fortunately, wine enthusiasts no longer have to depend on the increasingly costly wines of Champagne for fine sparkling wine. Since their awkward beginnings in the 1970s and early 1980s, American producers have made tremendous strides in producing wines using the traditional methods and grapes of Champagne.