DECEMBER DIRT: Bubbles – A Tale of Two Styles
This month Club Dirt explores two contrasting methods of winemaking, however the end result is ultimately the same: delicious bubbles in your glass.
The first of these styles is a rosé Pet Nat (Petillant Natural or “naturally sparkling”) from Loire Valley winemaker Frantz Saumon. Consider this the hipster at the dinner table, bright, fun, a bit funky, and totally organic. The other is a vintage Recaredo Cava from Barcelona, Spain. This bottle, is the fancy Great Aunt – crisp, dry, aromatic and only comes out to visit in the good years.
The fun thing about sparkling wine is that there’s more than one way to produce a bubble. One of these is the basic, natural form of winemaking found in the Pet Nat. This method uses natural yeasts and remaining sugars left in the unfiltered wine. The first fermentation finishes in the bottle, which results in its fizziness. The other is a Cava bottled using the traditional Champagne method in which a still wine is finished and bottled. Yeasts and sugar are added jump starting another fermentation, which in turn produces its bubbles. This particular Cava is a Brut Nature. Unlike most Champagne method wines, it has no dosage added, which makes for a very dry style. Both are different but fantastic and, like your hipster friend or graceful Aunt, they each deserve a seat at the dinner table.
NV, La Cave se Rebiffe Rose Pet Nat, Frantz Saumon – $24.99/Btl
In a tiny corner of the Montlouis region of Touraine in the Loire Valley, Frantz Saumon produces organic wines in soils of limestone, clay and tuffeau. All of Frantz’s wines are produced naturally in a variety of vessels including stainless steel and wood. Above all he strives for purity and a true representation of terroir in his bottles.
Rebiffe is Frantz’s only rosé Pet Nat. It’s made from a blend of Cot, Gamay, and Grolleau. From the first pop of the bottle cap there is a nose of bright red fruits including strawberry and raspberry, mingling with notes of white pepper and herbal undertones. The palate is full of ripeness. So much so, that it seems to edge towards a touch of sweetness, but is promptly balanced with robust acidity. As with most well-made Pet Nats, this is an extremely fun wine to drink, and it disappears way too quickly. A salty cloth-bound cheddar would make an amazing partner, or it would do very nicely alongside a pan-fried or roasted chicken.
2009, Brut Nature Gran Reserva, Recaredo Terrers – $41.99/Btl
Just over 90 years ago, a winemaker by the name of Josep Capellades decided to build cellars under his own home in Barcelona. Naming his operation after his late father Recaredo, Joseph began making his mark as a pioneer of Brut Nature Cava and using extended oak aging. Under the guidance of Capellades’ direct descendants, Recaredo grapes continue to be dry-farmed, grown organically with no pesticides, and painstakingly harvested by hand.
The tradition is well represented in the Terrers Gran Reserva. Born from the Alt Penedes region’s famous chalky soils, the 2009 vintage is a blend of three varietals, Xarel-lo, Macabeu and Parellada. It is bottle-aged for a minimum of 5 years and 5 months in the Recaredo caves. This is one of the finest examples of cava you can find, with an aromatic nose of white flower, asian pear, and lemon citrus. The palate is bracingly dry with notes of toast and an herbal minerality balanced by exceptional acidity.
It’s always a good idea to pair wines with food from the same region, and the Recaredo is no exception. The Gran Reserva could pair with many things, but tucking into some home-made tapas such as Iberico ham and melon, or a simple pan con tomate with a handful of olives would make for an uncomplicated, lovely feast.