CHAMPAGNE FRIDAY (Well, Almost) – JANSZ Brut, Tasmania, NV

So this is almost Champagne Friday. Almost because it was Friday when I tasted the wine but it is now the wee hours of Saturday as I finish this post. And almost because the wine is sparkling wine from Tasmania rather than Champagne (but it might take a really good Master of Wine to figure that out in a blind tasting). Here’s the deal: I didn’t have a late Friday appointment in my office this week (the normal source for Champagne Friday), and I was quite late at the office. So to make it up to the lovely Miss Carol, we took a bottle of JANSZ Brut NV and a bottle of Girard Artistry 2008 (which I will most likely get to in another post) and went to La Vista (one of our favorite BYOBs) . Jansz is one of my very favorite non-Champagne bubblies. The winery is owned by the Hill Smith family who also own Yalamba. The winemaker, Natalie Fryar (that’s her in the picture), has been there since 2001 and before that she had five years of sparkling winemaking experience at Seppelt’s Great Western. As Tasmania – surrounded as it is by cold water – has one of the coolest climates of any new world wine region, it is ideal for growing sparkling wine grapes.  I should probably mention that my friends David Maib of Negoçiants USA and Jane Ferrari who is the “traveling winemaker” for Yalumba are the ones who, some years back, introduced me to Jansz. Back to the present: While waiting for a table, we popped the Jansz. Not long after we said “Cheers.”, Miss Carol said “Yum!” That should do it but I will nevertheless offer my more detailed note below. Perhaps I should also mention that we drank the Jansz out of Riedel “Grand Cru Riesling” glasses which are rapidly becoming a favorite for richer sparkling wines.

JANSZ Brut, Tasmania, NV
Tech Note: 12% Alc. A methode champenoise blend of 58% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, and 2% Pinot Meunier aged two years en tirage (on the yeasts) before disgorgement and finishing.     Sensory Note: Pale green straw in color and fully sparkling with a nice bead even in the larger Riedel glasses. Plenty of fizz. The yeast-and-fruit nose was evident even as I was pouring the wine. In the glass, I found yeast and toast notes along with citrus and floral as well as a bit of red fruit. There is even a Champagne-like mineral component along with enough richness to make this work well with food. (I continued to sip it after we were seated with some of La Vista’s excellent mussels.) It is crisp and fresh with a fine balance and very long finish.     Bear Note: Delicious. I think Carol has a slight preference for the Jansz Rosé but I find them both to be excellent. And I think this was better with the mussels than the Rosé would have been. BS: 92+. ($20.00)

Bubbles, Riesling, and Pinot Noir

Mike Veseth posted “That’s Where The Money Goes” on his Wine Economist blog citing Nielson figures showing holiday (the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year’s) sales indicating the big winners in extra wine sales for the holidays. A good, brief, interesting post that, unlike some Wine Economist posts, is hard to disagree with. To see the post, go to http://wineeconomist.com/2011/12/27/holiday-wine-sales-thats-where-the-money-goes/

The meat of the Nielson info is “The U.S. consumer is much more inclined to open up their pocket books during the holidays.  While overall wine sales are 67% higher in that week leading up to Christmas compared to an average week, that jumps up to 124% higher for wines priced $15-$20, and 180% higher for wines $20 and higher. And which varieties tend to really shine during the holidays? Rieslings and Pinot Noir lead the way – with sales increases compared to an average week in the year 107% and 74% higher respectively, even more of a jump than the wine category overall. By country, wines from Germany, tied to that Riesling jump, followed by France and Italy exhibit the greatest holiday sales leap compared to an average week, while wines from Oregon pop the most when looking at major U.S. wine producing states. “

I found that part of that part of Veseth’s post interesting but was even more interested in the end. He states
” Trading up for the holidays doesn’t surprise me, but I must admit that I would not have predicted surging sales for Riesling and Pinot Noir. Those are actually the wines that I recommend to my students for festive holiday meals (along with bubbles, of course). I guess the word is out!”

The word is and has been out. Bubbly, Riesling, and Pinot Noir – from where ever in the world they come – are often the best and always among the most versatile wines for pairing with food. If I am packing a wine bag to take to a BYOB restaurant or to a friend’s house for dinner – and I don’t already know what we’ll be eating – those three wines are almost guaranteed to be in the bag. If you peeked into my beverage ‘fridge at home, you see Riesling (Germany, Washington State, and New Zealand) and bubbly (Champagne, Tasmania, California, and other French) and not much else. And my under-the-kitchen-counter wine “cave” is well stocked with Pinot Noir (Burgundy, California, Oregon, and New Zealand). These three – Bubbly, Riesling, and Pinot Noir – are the way to go.

Here are some of my every-day and weekend (better than every-day but not “special occasion” or “break-the-bank”) picks in these three categories:

Bubbly:
Varichon et Clerc Brut Blanc de Blancs, France, NV
Gruet Blanc de Noirs, New Mexico, NV
François Labet Cremant Rose, Bourgogne, NV
Jansz Brut Tasmania, NV
Jansz Brut Rose Tasmania, NV
Domaine Carneros Brut, Carneros, 2006
Marniquet Brut Tradition Champagne, NV

Riesling:
Polka Dot Riseling, Pfalz, 2010
Selbach Riesling QbA, Mosel, 2009 (in a screw cap liter bottle)
Schloss Vollrads Riesling QbA, Rheingau, 2010
Ch. Ste. Michelle Dr. Loosen “Eroica” Riesling, Washington State, 2009 and 2010
Donnhoff Estate Riesling, Nahe, 2010
Zind Humbrecht Riesling, Alsace, 2009

Pinot Noir:
Leonce Bocquet Bourgogne Pinot Noir Screwcap 2009
Hahn Pinot Noir, Monterey County, 2009/2010
Pierre Labet Bourgogne Pinot Noir Vielles Vignes, 2008/2009
Wild Earth Pinot Noir, Central Otago, 2006
Vincent Girardin Cuvee St. Vincent Pinot Noir, Bourgogne, 2009
Expression 44* Pinot Noir Eola Amity Hills 2009
Archery Summit Premiere Cuvee Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, 2009