Category Archives: Sparkling

2007 Recaredo Brut Nature Cava

2007 Recaredo Cava Brut Nature

In today’s episode of Champagne meets sushi we have a guest star: Cava. Our first bottle of Cava comes from Wine Library and comes highly recommended by Ian. Cava is a sparkling white wine produced primarily in Catalonia, Spain and is typically made from Macabeu, Parellada, and Xarel-lo grapes. It’s produced via the champenoise traditional method which means the carbonation is produced via secondary fermentation in the bottle, just like Champagne. Dinner included the standard fare, some of which can be seen in the picture, as well as Ootoro sashimi and a new specialty roll. Since we often do take out we like to play a game and see how many sets of chopsticks they give us in the bag…basically suggesting how many people they think will be eating the food. The other night we set a new personal best with 5 sets of chopsticks! Of course we sat, drank, and conquered without issue.

colonelgrape: 90. This bottle followed through with Ian’s “wild and crazy” proclaimation at the store. I had no idea what to expect from these grapes but it was delicious. Beautiful apple, pear, honey, and citrus notes dominate the nose and palate, very alive and fresh tasting, refreshing. Interestingly enough I found it easier to drink than most Champagne, more like an Asti which is produced via the Metodo Charmat method. The bubbles looked larger and more prevalent in the flute and felt softer on the palate. Being brut natural I was worried it may be too dry for Moby but the citrus gave it just the right balance and it all came together for a great bottle of wine…one I’d definitely recommend. At $33 a bottle it’s cheaper than almost all similarly aged vintage Champagne and something you could bring to wow someone who loves Champagne.

MobyGrape: 91.  Hola Cava!  What a treat this was.  The Colonel dropped a bomb on me by actually reading the label and informing me it was Brut Natural, which in my head translated to “this is going to be completely disgusting”.  Color me surprised by the first sips though, because I enjoyed it more than some of the champagnes we’ve had.  The bubbles were a healthy size, but they were softer.  Keep in mind I have no idea if this is actually possible, it may have only been in my head.  Normally the champagne bubbles are very agressive and in your face, like they’re trying to punch through the roof of your mouth and into your brain.  Not the cava though!  The cava bubbles just wanted to bounce around in there for a little bit and spice things up, then go on their merry way.  And as far as the Brut Natural scare, I was pleasantly surprised with a flavor that wasn’t sweet by any means, but it wasn’t sour or too tart.  Went down easy and paired excellently with sushi.  Looking forward to more cava experimenting!

Dinner Grape Style Part II

The gang was back together again at Aunt and UncleGrape’s house on Saturday night for another spectacular dinner. We were joined by CousinGrapette, BoyfriendGrape, as well as SisterGrape who took a trip from school to join us. Fresh off our trips to Union Square, Eataly, and of course the Wine Library we got to work on dinner. Here was our menu:

Appetizers: Smoked duck breast, wild boar salami, goat cheese with rosemary olive sourdough bread, daikon radish with hummus or spicy brown mustard and Hawaiin volcano sea salt.

Main Course: Roasted boneless leg of lamb infused with garlic and rubbed with spicy brown mustard.

Dessert: Italian cookies with pistachio cream spread and assorted chocolates.

NV Guy Larmandier Champagne2011 Gilbert Picq Chablis

With the appetizers we decided to go with French whites. We started with the NV Guy Larmandier 1er Cru Champagne which was crisp, light, refreshing and had just the right amount of bubbles. That was followed by the 2011 Gilbert Picq Chablis which was similar to the Champagne w/o the carbonation. I probably favored the Champagne over the Chablis and Moby did for sure. I learned that Vielles Vignes means old vines after I butchered trying to say it in front of UncleGrape who speaks fluent French. While the duck  and boar probably could have stood up to a light red the whites went well with everything. The duck was tender with just the right amount of smoke and the boar had an interesting sweetness to go along with good texture. The goat cheese paired well with the bread for a creamy mouthful of food. The daikon was very interesting…to me it tasted like a crunch wafer made of mushrooms and onion but it worked well with the smooth hummus and red volcano salt. All the appetizers were promptly destroyed and it was time to move onto the main course.

April 2013 NJ CdP

Since I got my hands on some 1995 Chateau de Beaucastel recently I brought a bottle and we decided to go a horizontal tasting of 1995 Chateauneuf du Pape.

1. 1995 Domaine de Beaurenard Boisrenard

2. 1995 Chateau de Beaucastel

3. 1995 Domaine de la Janasse

We started the meal a little bit later than anticipated because we didn’t realize the lamb was still partially frozen in the center. Not a problem for the Grape family as we had plenty of wine to keep us busy. We started with the Boisrenard which was surprisingly still tight. UncleGrape explained that 1995’s were historically tight but while it still had solid fruit coming through a bunch of us thought this was a bit too tight still. I’d love to try it again in 5-10 years.

We then moved on to the Beaucastel which had a very distinct old bandaid smell to it. Sounds appetizing right? It was delicious! UncleGrape filled us in on the smell…it’s called “brett”. Brett is a type of yeast called Brettanomyces that can be found on the skin of fruit and therefore in wine. Small amounts of brett are generally regarded as good for the flavor of the wine however large amounts can cause problems. That being said the Beaucastel was very bretty. AuntGrape is notorious for loving bretty wines so it’s no surprise she loved it the most. We enjoyed it too and it was an educational experience.

Lastly we had the Janasse. Our last trip we had the 2000 which was good but not the best of the night however I’d argue for the 95 taking the show this time. I thought it had the most balance but not everyone agreed with me.

We couldn’t come to a consensus on the Chateauneuf like we did last time with the 2000 Charvin stealing the show. Here’s how we ranked them:

colonelgrape: 3-2-1

MobyGrape: 3-1-2

UncleGrape: 1-2-3

AuntGrape (brett lover): 2-3-1

Since Moby and I write the blog we’re going to declare the Janasse the winner but it was a split decision for sure. The one thing we all agreed on though is that the 1989 Parusso Bussia Barolo was the wine of the weekend. The Chateauneuf was great but the Barolo outclassed them all.

Cocchi Barolo Chinato

Last but not least AuntGrape treated us all to a very rare (and previously illegal in the United States) Italian digestif…Cocchi Barolo Chinato. Having never heard of it Moby and I were all in. We learned that Barolo Chinato is a standard barolo infused with spices and most importantly quinine which why it was illegal in the United States as that’s a drug found in prescription medications! The spices and quinine give it a gin like, piney taste to go along with some sweetness. On it’s own we weren’t huge fans but when paired with dark chocolate it was spectacular. Something about the combination worked wonders. We  also had the Italian cookies and pistachio cream spread which was crazy good. The spread was a honey like consistency but had a sweetness to go along with the strong pistachio taste. We liked the wine much better with the chocolate than the cookies and spread but we both would have eaten the spread right out of the jar it was that good.

We concluded our trip next morning by making breakfast with the duck, turkey, and pheasant eggs which was great. The duck was probably the most different having a huge yolk and slightly different texture, the others tasted similar to a chicken egg just different sizes. We learned about brett and Barolo Chinato, had great food, great wine, and spent time with family so all in all it was a great trip. Keep an eye out for that 1989 Parusso!!!

Barefoot Bubbly Pink Moscato


Picture it…Alone on a Saturday night…40 re-runs of your favorite show on the dvr, a pound of hamburger in the fridge…A bottle of pink bubbly in the fridge…What to do?  Cue the MacGuyver theme song.  If you’re anything like me you most certainly did not create an explosive device out of those three things.  More like you found yourself camped out in front of the television for an entire evening after concocting some sort of Frankenmeatsauce on pasta while drinking a bottle of this stuff.  I bought it because gosh darn it I wanted the most ridiculous, girly, bottle of fizzing garbage I could find.  Look no further than pink Moscato Champagne from Barefoot Bubbly.  On a side note, I just heard the Colonel softly weeping somewhere because the label says Champagne.  I had tried the green one before, and it was fine, but then I looked at the sweetness scale on the back of the bottle (no, I’m not making that up) and saw that there was something sweeter!  I had to have it.  So I got the pink one.  Yes, I know it sounds like I’m talking about Play-Doh.  About halfway through the bottle I thought I may have sprouted a second vagina because it’s just so pink and bubbly and ridiculous.  While it wasn’t my favorite (believe it or not I thought it would be sweeter), it was certainly enough fun for a night where you don’t feel like taking anything too seriously, including yourself.

2011 Bartenura Moscato


I picked up this bottle at Vin Bin a month or so ago when I went hunting for our usual bottle of Moscato. It was more expensive at $19 but I thought we’d give it a try. How did it compare?

ColonelGrape: 80. I gave the bottle I’ve liked the most an 85 (Soria Bruno Cascina del Santuario) so I’m going a little lower here. It was the usual Moscato being very light, mild bubbles, and big on sweetness. It’s very low alcohol content makes it easy to drink and perfect for an aperitif, desert, or even with some light meals…I’m sure Moby would even have it with breakfast. Definitely a wine you need to be in the mood for but when the time is right it’s a nice wine to relax with.

MobyGrape: 88.  This wasn’t my favorite Moscato that we had, but it pretty much lived up to what I expected.  Delicately bubbly (enough so you have an excuse to pull out the champagne flutes) and a very light flavor, it was sweet without being overbearing.  Like if you get too ambitious and you kind of chug it because it’s delicious (not that I’d ever do that) you won’t find yourself having to try and keep an unruly burp from erupting (once again, not that I’ve ever done that) and come off as less Bond girl, and more Bud girl.  I think it’s safe to say that at this point I like Moscato, it’s just a matter of finding my favorite producer.

Baron D’auvergne Brut Privelege


Last night we had our first Champagne of 2013 and it was the Baron. We were out celebrating Moby’s birthday (21 again of course) and we decided to get sushi. UncleGrape has been raving about the pairing of sushi and champagne so we gave it a try and it didn’t disappoint. You can even see some sushi Moby snuck into the photo. I think the reason the pairing works so well is the lightness of both foods….no overpowering flavors just refreshing and light.

My last order from Wine Library was all whites and this bottle was one of them. What’s different about this bottle is the blend is 80% pinot noir and 20% chardonnay whereas most champagnes are chardonnay or the ratio is reversed. I have another bottle of champagne in the cellar that’s 100% chardonnay so we’ll have an interesting comparison…as was the Nicholas Feuillate we had on New Years Eve.

colonelgrape: 87. I’m still struggling to find my champagne palate but it’s coming along. I could definitely distinguish the quality in this wine vs. the Nicholas Feuilatte we had a few weeks ago. The bubbles were just right and the wine was just tighter. I like to have Brut with food and usually by the time I get 1/2 way through I’m over it but I made it almost all the way through this bottle before that happened. I could really taste the difference the pinot noir makes because it allows you to taste red berries in the background like strawberry and raspberry while the focus is on more golden fruit like pear, apple, and melon. I really enjoyed it with the sushi as they were both light and refreshing at the same time. We tried sea urchin for the first time and that even worked with the wine. All in all the Baron is a delicious bottle of champagne and I’m looking forward to trying more to compare it with. Expect sushi/champagne nights to keep popping up in the future and hopefully I’ll have more of a grasp on champagne.

MobyGrape: 84.  I’m finding myself very torn writing these champagne reviews.  It’s like looking at a famous work of art that you can appreciate as an incredible artistic creation….but you don’t really like.  You’ll never admit that you don’t like it, because you’d then be known as the uncultured idiot who doesn’t like fine art, but deep down, as hard as you may try, it just doesn’t do anything for you.  That’s how I feel about some of the champagnes we’ve had.  I can appreciate them, and they make me feel fancy, but I don’t always want to hang them on my living room wall.  For whatever reason, I still like my sweet bubblies for all occasions.  Yes, they may be the color-by-numbers of the art world, but there’s no accounting for taste, is there.  If you like dry champagne/sparkling wines, by all means have at it, I admire your style!  If you’re like me though, make sure to pair those with food, they complement each other better that way.  Personal preferences aside, I consider it my solemn duty to keep on popping corks until I can appreciate the Brut equivalent of the Mona Lisa.