First of all you may notice that I’m not using the conventional glass for sparkling wines – it’s recommended to use long and thin flutes instead. Like all good traditions there are aesthetic and functional reasons for this. A taller glass gives the bubbles in the wine more travel time, letting you appreciate and judge the view. Functionally, the opening of the glass has a smaller surface area, exposing less of the wine to oxygen and keeping in the wine’s aroma profile.
The reason I used the “wrong” glass is to maintain consistency between judgements – all wines reviewed here previously have used the same style of glass, and to use a different vessel could cause me to unintentionally misrepresent this wine. With any observation or experimentation, it’s important to keep as many variables unchanged as possible.
Flavor Intensity: Medium+
Quality: Very Good
Readiness/Cellaring: Can drink now, potential to cellar
Identity: France / Burgundy (?) / Chardonnay
Price: High-priced (RRP $25)
Pale lemon with gold flecks
Slow, steady bead
Aromas of apricot pastry, honey, lemon, dough
Flavours of apricot, honey, lemon, dough, grape, yogurt
Cleansing acidity with soft, creamy mousse
Serve as aperitif or with oysters.
One of the reasons why I am so drawn to wine is the possibility of invoking vivid imagery (sometimes NSFW). In this example, my immediate impression was of an apricot puff pastry. From this alone I could make a number of assumptions – that this wine was quite youthful and that it had spent some time on lees, the dead yeast cells used to make wine. The words “Méthode Traditionnelle”, referring to the technique used to induce the formation of bubbles in the wine, supports this observation. “Blanc de blancs” roughly translates to “white wine from white grapes”, indicating that only Chardonnay grapes were used – apricot is one of the many natural traits of this varietal.
Other than the above, this wine does lack certain details which would have been helpful. I cannot see any more specific regional indication other than “Produit en France”. The name ‘Charles Pelletier’ seems to have some relation to Burgundy, a region famous for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but this is no guarantee, hence the question mark in my notes.
In the absence of more information, I can only imagine this wine may be made from grapes originating from more than one area. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as I have indicated this wine is of “very good” quality and can lower the barrier of entry for regular consumers to try some good sparkling wines. Only a small number of dedicated “terroirists”, fanatics obsessed with soil types and provenance, would take issue to this.
Knowing what information is lacking is almost as important as knowing what information to ignore – the words “cuvée royale” and “grande reserve” are featured prominently on the label, but without any supporting information you can assume these are just fluff marketing terms. The only other word that has any meaning is “Brut”, indicating a dry style of wine.
Despite the relatively low alcohol level (11.5%), I found that I was getting intoxicated a little sooner than usual – the phrase “bubbles getting to my head” may have some truth to it. As always I advocate for moderation in all things, but sparkling wines are a challenge – after any significant period the bubbles will have dissipated. Fortunately, as you can see pictured above, I had a chrome stopper on hand to preserve this wine for later enjoyment.
PS – Want to know more about which key terms you should know or ignore? You might be interested in getting a Personal Wine Consultation.
Read more: Rational Wine Experiment – The Price Tasting