All Things Sparkling

Bar None

with Debbian Spence-Minott

Thursday, January 03, 2019

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Happy New Year! What an exciting and appropriate time to talk/drink/write Champagne or as a matter a fact, just anything sparkling. When I hear the word sparkling, I immediately think of something shiny and new, and toasts to new beginnings. Many of you ushered in 2019 with this magical potion as the night sky illuminated in fireworks, or maybe you sat at home, cosied up with a loved one or just your best self and toasted the new year. No matter in what fashion you welcomed the year, I am sure a little bubbly accented the night delightfully! But how much do you know about sparkling wines and the brands you enjoy?

Sparkling Wine

Sparkling wine is a wine with bubbles or effervescence. It was developed in the Champagne region of France in the 1700s and was the result of two 17th-century winemaking inventions: the cork and the wine bottle.

Corks and bottles provided for the first time an airtight package for wine. Young wines were bottled before they had finished primary fermentation. Because of the tight seal, when the wines finished their fermentation in the bottle, the carbon dioxide was trapped inside giving them effervescence.

A Champagne is a sparkling wine but a sparkling wine is not a Champagne!

History credits the monk Dom Pérignon as the creator of champagnes, even if unintentional. You see, while Dom Pérignon stored his wines for aging in the church cellars, he was unaware of a second fermentation that would take place in the bottle. The cork trapped the additional carbon dioxide and alcohol formed; however, too much pressure inside the bottle forced the corks to be expelled. Dom Pérignon soon heard explosions coming from his abbey. Upon checking, he realised that the corks had been expelled, and there were bubbles inside the liquid.

Over the next 100 years an elaborate procedure to make sparkling wine, called methode champenoise, was developed. The term Champagne refers to sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France. If this very same process is executed outside the town of Champagne, even if in France, then the product is called a sparkling wine.

Since the Champagne region is very cool, the grapes used for making their sparkling wines ripen early. The three grapes used in making champagnes are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier. In California, Pinot Blanc is added or substituted in creating sparkling wines. Some wine houses developed their own style of Champagne using these grapes. For example, Moët & Chandon uses an equal proportion of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, while Ruinart Blanc de Blanc is made only using Chardonnay grapes; Veuve Clicquot uses more Pinot Menuier and Pinot Noir than Chardonnay.


Some of the Season's Favourites:

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin

Veuve Clicquot has always been audacious to its very core, with no better example than Madame Clicquot herself — the intelligent, visionary woman who faced uncertainty with skill and grace. Madame Clicquot took the reins of the House in 1805 after the death of her husband. Think that's audacious? Keep in mind that this was a time when women in France were considered minors under the responsibility of a man and could not even hold a bank account. It was in this context that Madame Clicquot became one of the first businesswomen of modern times. Never one to settle, Madame Clicquot cultivated a culture of excellence for herself and those around her. She had a say in everything from the selection of grape parcels, including her beloved Pinot Noir from Clos Colin in Bouzy, to the techniques used to blend and mature her Champagne. Madame Clicquot's drive and exacting standards are the basis for the stellar reputation of Veuve Clicquot Champagne today. This is artfully expressed in Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label, the House's signature Champagne. To create it year after year, the cellar master requires wines of the utmost quality, including priceless reserve wines, to balance all four dimensions of the Veuve Clicquot style: strength, aromatic intensity, freshness, and silkiness.

GH Mumm Champagne

The first pages of the Maison Mumm fabled winemaking history were written long before 1827, its official founding date. The Mumm family, whose lineage includes barons and knights, dates back to the 12th century. Already in 1761, the family had launched a business as wine producers and merchants based in Cologne, Germany under the name “PA Mumm”, after its owner Peter Arnold Mumm. The company owned large vineyards in the Rhine valley, where it created its own wines.

In the early years of the 19th century, Peter Arnold Mumm's three sons, Gottlieb, Jacobus and Philipp, recognised the sales potential of the outstanding sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France. As Germany and France enjoyed good relations at the time, the Mumm brothers made the bold decision to establish a new branch of the family company in the Champagne region, creating a branch office in Reims with the assistance of a local representative, G Heuser.

From the outset, quality was the key watchword for the partners in this new entity formed in 1827, and it has remained so for all of their successors. This approach would be encapsulated in the motto penned by Georges Hermann Mumm: “Only the best”.

In 1876, Georges Hermann Mumm made a decision that would shape the destiny of his champagne house. Paying tribute to his prestigious clients, he had the neck of every bottle of his Cuvée Brut decorated with a red silk ribbon. This decoration was inspired by the red sashes bestowed upon those distinguished individuals receiving the highest of French honours, the Ordre Royal et Militaire de Saint Louis and the Grand Cordon de la Légion d'Honneur. Beyond the visual strength of the Cordon Rouge, this decision firmly established Maison Mumm as an ambassador of the Champagne spirit, in due recognition of its accomplishments. Mumm Cordon Rouge has often been the choice of leading personalities when dining out or celebrating. Our own sprint sensation Usain Bolt is brand ambassador and chief entertainment officer for GH Mumm Champagne.


Meet Champagne's Sexy Cousin — Prosecco!

Prosecco was created in 1868 and is credited to Carpené Malvolti. Prosecco is a sparkling wine made in the Veneto region of Italy around the city of Treviso about 15 miles (24 km) north of Venice. The wine is made with Prosecco (aka Glera) grapes. Prosecco is considered an affordable luxury at one-third to one-half the cost of Champagne.


La Marca Prosecco

Made from the expressive Glera grape found on the hillside vineyards of Italy's Prosecco capital, Treviso. La Marca Prosecco is an elegant, luxurious sparkling wine that has a pale, golden straw colour and sparkles with lively effervescence. Aromas of fresh-cut citrus and honeysuckle blossoms and a crisp, clean palate bring fruity flavours of ripe lemon, green apple and peach framed by hints of minerality. The finish is light and refreshing with a tantalising hint of sweetness. La Marca pairs well with any meal and can be enjoyed as an aperitif (before-meal drink to stimulate the appetite).


Santa Margherita Prosecco

This sparkling wine has fine bubbles winding through its bright straw yellow colour and greenish reflections. Its aroma will remind you of peaches and sweet flowers, and its flavour includes fruity hints of pineapples and Rennet apples. Perfect aperitif or accompaniment to any meal.

Santa Margherita Rosé

This pale pink wine brings a full bouquet of pleasing floral aromas with hints of red berry, artfully crafted with a blend of white wine made from Chardonnay and Glera grapes and a red varietal, Malbec. Its flavour is delicate, but vibrant and well-rounded, remaining on the palate and making this a deliciously easy-drinking wine. A tasty, aromatic aperitif, and an exciting companion for your food explorations: savoury Italian appetisers, complex seafood dishes, and spicy, exotic seasoning of East Asian cuisines.

“This is not for me. I don't drink wines with alcohol.” That's OK too…

You can still join the sparkling fun! There are many sparkling non-alcohol bubblies on the market. Try Bel Normande, Chamdor or Bosca Tosselli.


Readers' Feedback:

Imagine if we embraced life's moments, big and small, without reservation. Together, we might just fill the world with contagious joy. Please share with me your sparkling moments or comments on the above article at Join me next week as we explore what to do with all these wines we received as gifts for Christmas 2018!


Debbian Spence-Minott

An Alumna of the US Sommelier Association

CEO of the Academy of Bartending, Spirits & Wines

President – Jamaica Union of Bartenders and Mixologists (JUBAM) Limited

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