A treat for Valentine's Day, reminding us that Champagne isn't the answer for every sparkling wine need, as well as that the fact that sweetness in a wine should be a wonderful thing when done correctly. This wine comes from Beaujolais and uses the 'methode ancestrale' to create the bubbles, which is different from the 'methode traditionelle' used in making Champagne and other like-minded sparkling wines in that it doesn't use a secondary fermentation in the bottle. That bottle fermentation is what allows the wine to have carbonation and be made completely dry, while ancestrale is only able to take the wine down to 8%-9% abv and still keep its carbonation. The ancestrale method exists well before the monks in Champagne refined their process, and many examples persist to this day in regions like Bugey Cerdon in Savoie and Clairette de Die in the Rhone that are OK with making a bubbly wine with a little bit of natural sugar left behind. It is important to remember this is very different from a Moscato d'Asti and the wines made in that method, as those wines are much lower in carbonation (no 'cork and cage' Champagne type stopper because of the pressure) and their alcohol is much lower due to less sugar being fermented out. There are no added outside sugars, no cheap shortcuts. And in the broad continuum of dry to sweet, this doesn't come across cloying at all, more of the sweet taste of fresh berries, natural and delicious.
Pouring with a youthful purple color and grape-y tinted foamy bubble that lingers at the edges in the glass, the aromas are somewhere between a juicy Beaujolais and a old school soda fountain drink, savory red berries mixed with cola and sarsaparilla. Don't know if it's the carbonation that brings out the soda-ish parallels, but they definitely show through more as the wine gets warmer, while the vinous aromas show more when the wine first comes out of the fridge. On the palate the flavors are fresh and grape-y, with very little sense of sugar or anything coating the palate, with a very fine prickle of carbonation and a dusty tannin creating a fairly dry sensation on the finish. A great lighter weight foil for less intensely sweet chocolates or chocolate-based desserts, but also worth pairing with lighter savory snacks, Beaujolais style, if you just don't want anything weighing you down with much alcohol.
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