Wine: Champagne Heidsieck & Co. Monopole Blue Top Brut
Grapes: Pinot noir (50 percent), chardonnay (50 percent)
Region: Epernay, Champagne, France
In the glass: Heidsieck Champagne is a bright, light citrine-yellow with a clean, clear appearance showing quite a bit of effervescence from the core going out into a glass-clear rim definition with light to medium viscosity.
On the nose: It is classic at first with a plethora of mixed white fruits, dominated by red apple slices, freshly baked pastry, mowed straw, nuttiness like walnut shells and, finally, leavened dough over chalky minerals.
On the palate: It is full of mousse and creamy in texture, before revealing the fresh and zippy character of the fruit and the nuts, almond biscotti, some yeast residue rather than fresh dough, which is again classic for champagne, and then lovely balance between white fruit and acidity right through to the lingering finish.
Wine: J Vineyards & Winery Russian River Valley Brut Rose
Grapes: Pinot noir (59 percent), chardonnay (41 percent)
Region: Russian River Valley, Calif.
In the glass: J Rose is a lovely, translucent antique-rose color with tiny fast-moving bubbles, clean and bright in its appearance going out into a faint pink rim definition and with medium viscosity.
On the nose: It bears immediate resemblance to a freshly blended strawberry smoothie with touches of raspberry and red currants. There also are hints of nice minerals, fresh rye dough and citrus leaves.
On the palate: It is zippy with acidity and fizzy red currants dominate upfront as it coats the inside of the mouth, then it expands to show some mixed red berries and great layered minerality intertwined with lemon segments and vitamin C. All this freshness from the acidity produces a tremendous length on the palate, as it just lingers for a full minute.
Odds and ends: I thought it interesting that the economic crisis has produced some amazing price cuts, especially champagnes and top sparkling wines. I suppose they’re considered “luxury” goods, so sales are down dramatically. This is a great time to buy, especially for the holidays.
On the one hand, we have the well-regarded and delicious drinking Heidsieck Monopole, whose claim to fame is that it was the official champagne aboard the Titanic. Salvaged bottles were found to be drinking great still. On the other hand, we have one of California’s top sparkling wine producers, making their J Rose in exactly the same way that great champagnes are made, except they’re in Healdsburg, Napa Valley.
Both are excellent wines to drink, and both are priced at nearly half of what they usually would sell for, so grab a few and celebrate the end of this economically challenged year in style, but remember to chill them to about 43 degrees Fahrenheit before drinking them. Happy holidays.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89016-0749, or e-mail him at email@example.com.