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Welcome to my Sparkling Blog
Here you will find articles where I share my discoveries and rambling thoughts about the wonderful world of wine, in particularly my special passions being Prosecco, sparkling wine and glassware. It would be great to hear your comments.
Julia Philips, Owner of Just Perfect Wines
By Julia Phillips, Aug 23 2018 08:33PM
Lyme Bay Brut Reserve English Sparkling Wine
Well, yes! I’ve been interested in the development of English Sparkling Wine for a few years and thought it would be great to introduce such a fizz into the retail side of my business and support the local UK industry. However, there was just one problem, I didn’t like it and neither did I think my Prosecco-loving customers would either. The overall quality and presence has improved greatly over recent years and continues to do so. I wanted to like it, but just didn’t. I know many people do like it and taste is subjective but for me, it was oh too similar to Champagne ie, generally too dry, too acidic, too yeasty, over complex with a heavy flavour. I much prefer the fruiter and lighter style of Prosecco, particularly Prosecco Superiore as perhaps you do too? It’s not surprising the English fizz I tried I found similar to Champagne as it’s made using the same method, ie the traditional method and typically the same grapes Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
However, that all changed when I discovered Lyme Bay Winery’s English Sparkling Wine (their Brut Reserve) at a trade tasting a couple of years ago. I was quite shocked that I actually liked it. Not over acidic, not heavy and actually quite Prosecco-like and fruity. A good Prosecco you understand!
So since then I’ve had my eye on them and tasted their fizz at subsequent events ...and still loved it. Of course I adore my premium Prosecco as perhaps you do too if you’ve tried it, but it’s always good to try something different. So this year I planned would be the year to finally trial it within my business and see what my Prosecco-loving customers thought of it.
Nothing is ever simple though is it? I was alarmed to discover that the grapes used to make the Lyme Bay Brut Reserve fizz I liked had changed this year. I was concerned it might have gone more Champagne-like like all the other English Sparkling Wines I’d tried and I wouldn’t like it. However, much to my delight it was even better than previous vintages!! It’s stunning and those that have tasted it already appear to love it too. It’s fresh, light, dry with a fruity aroma and taste, all presented with elegance. I’d compare it to a Brut Prosecco Superiore. I love it for being a beautiful sparkling wine and also because it’s made in England! All good, apart from there’s not much of it left now until the new vintage next year. I think the message has got out just how good it is.
Oh and just one other thing, I discovered that although Lyme Bay Winery are located in Devon they are owned by a company in Leek, Staffordshire not many miles away from Just Perfect Wines HQ. How bizarre is that!
By Julia Phillips, Mar 25 2018 06:48PM
A close up of the nucleation point (the ring) in a Riedel Prosecco glass
In order to serve a particular brand of ‘fizz on tap’ at his hotel, a chap I was chatting to at an event this week told me he would need to have special glasses with nucleation points. Now I’m aware of nucleation points thanks to my work with top glassware brand, Riedel. Nucleation points in case you are not aware, are tiny rough laser-etched dots or rings at the base of a sparkling wine flute or glass. The purpose of this ‘scratch’, is to give the bubbles dissolved within your Prosecco (or other fizz) a point of release, helping them to form in your glass. If you’re not convinced, try dropping a raisin in your fizz – it gives a similar effect!
Interestingly, if your glass is perfectly smooth and clean ie, free of dust, debris etc which also act as small nucleation points, then you would have no bubbles in your fizz what so ever. This point was actually proved in an experiment by Möet & Chandon in laboratory conditions, when “after pouring, the Champagne looked simply like a still wine”*.
A nucleation point in a Spiegelau Prosecco glass
I had thought that part of being a ‘Champagne flute’, all flutes were flute shaped and had nucleation points. Most of my glassware since starting Just Perfect Wines is made by Riedel, some by Italesse. All their Prosecco glasses have nucleation points and so assumed it was the norm. It seems not, so this hotelier informed me! And yes, he’s right. My old standard flutes don’t have any nucleation points. It would appear that only higher quality glassware made for sparkling wine has these etched scratches to give optimum bubble performance.
Ironically, a lady at one of my Prosecco tastings this week told me after I relayed the above story that she’d bought some flutes from Riedel recently and thought the nucleation point was a manufacturer’s imperfection! Oh no, definitely not. They are perfect ‘imperfections’, intended by the manufacturer.
Bubbles and Ca'Salina
* “Uncorked - The Science of Champagne” by Gérard Liger-Belair, 2013.
By Julia Phillips, Nov 8 2017 01:03PM
Simply put….I would say it’s a cross between a Prosecco and Champagne style, which tastes amazing and in theory no hangovers or headaches. Just perfect don’t you think?!
Giorgia Brut Sparkling Wine
So it’s 100% Glera (the grape used to make Prosecco), made by a Prosecco winery, Ca’Salina who are in the heart of one of best Prosecco regions in Italy, Valdobbiadene - however, it can’t be called Prosecco. That is because it is made in a different way to the method used for making the strictly controlled product, Prosecco DOC /DOCG, hence the name “Giorgia”.
I met with Gregorio Bortolin this summer, the owner of the Ca’Salina winery who explained that Giorgia (named after his granddaughter) is a result of his experiment using the modern floatation tank method (instead of the usual (for Prosecco) Charmat method) to produce a ‘no added sulphites’ sparkling wine. All wines have a natural level of sulphites, but most also have sulphites added up to the legal limit of 210mg/l for white wine. Sulphur is a preservative and used to stop anything that comes into the winery and doesn’t belong to the grapes eg, bacteria, fungus, bad natural yeast from making the wine go bad (or oxidise). By using the flotation tank method, this process separates anything bad leaving a pure grape juice. With no impurities and a clean juice there is no need to add sulphites. Simple.
Giorgia no added sulphites label
As the wine is stripped of the natural yeast (which may not be a good yeast), Ca’Salina add top quality yeast to start off the first fermentation. Using pure juice and high quality yeast gives you a just perfect sparkling wine, so Gregorio explained…. And yes, he is right. Giorgia is truly beautiful. The result is a clean, fresh, dry tasting wine; a with a little more complexity than most Proseccos but not as heavy or over-dry as some Champagnes, Cavas or English Sparkling Wines. It has fruity aromas and a taste you get from Prosecco as well as aromas of honey, butter and brioche you tend to get from wines made in the Champagne method.
And of course, in theory with no added sulphites comes no headaches or hangovers…and it’s low sugar, so low calorie too (...and did I mention it has a pretty label?) - Giorgia really is just perfect. A very exciting and interesting wine all Prosecco and sparkling wine lovers must try. Please let me know what you think if you do!
Gregorio Bortolin and Julia Phillips at Ca'Salina, June 2017
Grazie mille to Gregorio for his wonderful experiment.
Owner of Just Perfect Wines
my SPARKLING BLOG