March 01, 2013


Some of you may remember that, in addition to making wine as Vincent Wine Company and being a partner in another wine business called Guild Winemakers,  I have a day job in higher education. I know, how does all that work? Sometimes I wonder myself.

I'm committed to my career in higher ed and after a long, far too long time, I'm leaving my current job at a local public university to take a nice position at another local university, smaller and private. I couldn't be more excited. It certainly is something to celebrate.

Let's be clear - bubbles are not just for celebrations. It's a shame that Champagne and the world of sparkling wines are so often saved only to celebrate. Those of us who know better know that bubbles go tremendously well with all kinds of food, and honestly, short of some nasty cheap, sweet "champagne" out there, is there a wine category with more to offer at the lower end than sparkling wine?

Sparkling wines at reasonable prices from Italy, Spain, France, California, Oregon, even the state of New Mexico (Gruet!), abound on shelves across the US. I honestly don't know why I don't drink more of them myself.

Perhaps I too am guilty, and with the new job, what did I do? I went out and bought a bottle of sparkling wine to celebrate. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose.

I didn't spend a ton, paying about $23, but it's true I didn't exactly cheap out. Still, the NV Clotilde Davenne Cremant de Bourgogne Brut Extra is astonishingly good bubbly worthy of celebration and even a simple dinner at home. It's excellent wine for some money but hardly too much.

This producer is located in the Chablis region, where the chalky soils suggest the unique terroirs of nearby Champagne. I knew nothing of the wine when I bought it. I just trusted a favorite retailer - Division Wines in SE Portland - and it's what they had in the cold box. I didn't expect it to be bad, I just had no idea how good this would be.

Pale in color with a lovely texture of bubbles and bright acidity, the middle palate was the key. A burst of energy in the mouth took this from pleasant sparkler to near Champagne in quality, and I don't say that lightly. The finish was pretty long and graceful, and the bottle disappeared rather quickly. This was irresistible wine.

The lesson? Bubbles are indeed great for celebrations. But when you can get a wine of this quality at this kind of price, a wine that puts a smile on your face so effortlessly, why on earth wouldn't you drink it more often? There's always something to celebrate, no?


SteveMcCa11 said...

I'm late reading this, but congrats on the new job - just make sure it doesn't get TOO much in the way of continuing your winemaking!

Vincent Fritzsche said...

Thanks! Yes, a big move for me but one that should fit well with the winemaking. First step though, not growing much in production this year. Will help on the cash front too...