Story and photos by Manos Angelakis

Champagne two glasses

Sparkling Wine tasting

Spring is here… and we call again the “gang of the usual suspects” to a tasting on a lovely Saturday afternoon, at our friend’s home in Dobbs Ferry, a semirural community near New York City. There is a back yard that opens into woods behind the home. We sit under umbrellas and the generous hosts bring out munchies to go with the sparkling wines we’ll be tasting. A curious doe stops by to check out what these humans are doing, I guess in the hope that there will be some munchies for it too.

We hate to disappoint, but I don’t think that smoked salmon on a bed of endive with crème fraîche or celery stalks with blue cheese or Greek honey cookies (melomakarona) are to the doe’s taste, so it harrumphs and walks away.

Now that, finally, the COVID travel restrictions have been mostly lifted, a few of the regulars are on press trips. So, we supplement the number of participants with new friends: a travel writer and editor and white wine aficionado, the poet laureate of Queens, a lawyer and her spouse and a few others. We are eleven tasters altogether.

We’re tasting sparkling wines, starting with Prosecco, continuing with Sekt – the German name for a sparkler – and Cava -- Spanish name for sparkling wine -- continuing with a California sparkler and ending with non-vintage Champagne from one of the most prominent Champagne houses.

The list of wines to be tasted:

Corvezzo, Prosecco Rosé, 2020 from Italy
Corvezzo, Prosecco, Non-Vintage from Italy
Gran Passione, Prosecco, Non-Vintage also from Italy
Selbach Oster, Sekt Sparkling Riesling 2016 from Germany
Selbach Oster, Sekt Sparkling Pinot 2017 also from Germany
Maset NU Reserva, Cava, 2019, from Spain
Piper Sonoma Brut, Sparkling Wine, Non-Vintage, from California
Piper Heidsieck, Champagne, Non-Vintage, from France

The retail prices range from $10 to $15 for the Cava, for the Proseccos $14 to $19, for the Sekts $25 to $35, for the California sparkler $19 to $26 and for the Champagne from $37 to $45, depending on the retailer.

The general consensus is: all these sparkling wines are well worth drinking!

Some liked the true Champagne best, thought not everyone put it at the top of their list; the Cava was second in preference, very closely followed by the Sekts, the Proseccos and the California sparkler; all rated near the top of the range. All were deemed elegant, very well balanced with subtle flavors.

Some comments from our tasters:

“The Cava had a fresh taste, almost melony”

 “Maset NU Reserva, depth and personality and not too sharp or acidic”

“The Rosé Prosecco was dry and crisp”

“The Corvezzo Rosé was subtle, with perfect balance and subtle flavor”

“The Corvezzo rosé: I prefer a slight flavor or aroma; this has none”

“The Gran Passione: I liked the lightness and smoothness!”

“Corvezzo Prosecco (white): much more exciting as soon as it hits the tongue”

“Selbach Oster Riesling, reminiscent of an older, slightly sweeter style”

“The Riesling was off-dry and very nicely aromatic”

“Selbach Oster Riesling, it is smooth and has flavor”  

“Selbach Oster Pinot, way too bubbly for me but nice finish”

“Selbach Oster Pinot, smooth mouthfeel”

“Piper Sonoma Brut, tart, a bite on your tastebuds, elegant”

“Piper Sonoma Brut, left dry and flat taste in my mouth”

“Piper Sonoma Brut, excellent, very enjoyable”

“Piper Heidsieck, elegant and refined, balanced acidity and sweetness, full body”

“Piper Heidsieck, three stars”

“Piper Heidsieck, 8 out of 10 points”

“Piper Heidsieck, Somewhat bitter, too bubbly”

“Prosecco goes best with truffle cheese”

Or as the Romans used to say: De gustibus non est disputandum!

To your health!




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