Drink a bottle of sparkling wine and write about it. That’s an assignment I can live with.
The bottle I selected was S. Anderson Blanc de Noir 1998 Napa Valley. I was familiar with S. Anderson because of their claret from the Stags Leap District, which I've found to be outstanding as well as a screaming good deal. Sadly, I'm not sure they still produce the claret.
As with their claret, this sparkling wine did not disappoint. It’s ironic that what drew my attention to this particular bottle was that it was on clearance. Knowing my local wine shop as I do, I guessed that this wine had been passed over for more familiar names, proving that it’s good to take chances sometimes.
I couldn’t find a geek sheet on this vintage, but the 2000 vintage is 100% pinot noir with 0.9% residual sugar and only 660 cases produced.
Upon hearing the gentle “pop” when I removed the cork, my anticipation grew. When I saw the gentle foaming of the wine and the color that I can only describe as "champagne," I began salivating.
The nose was a lovely mix of toasted bread, apple (not cheap-ass, supermarket apples, but really good, fresh heirloom apples) and pear. The first sip revealed more of the same, as well as delicate cherry flavors, a bit of nut and very nice minerality. As the wine opened up during dinner, the complexity grew, leaving me searching for more descriptors.
Two things really struck me about this wine:
1.) A wine like this proves that sparkling wine from California (and elsewhere) can give Champagne a run for its money and sometimes can flat-out beat it up. The complexity and elegance of this wine rivals Champagnes that I’ve had at twice the price and more. It was $19.99, down from the original price of $24.99.
2.) I relish discovering wines that others have passed over. While so many wine shoppers seem content to buy the same-old familiar brands, I have always looked for the oddballs and the unknown. That, to me, is the thrill of wine buying. If I wanted to always get the same thing—I’d buy Woodbridge.
Depending on your budget, this could be a budget buy or a special occasion wine. I’m proud to say that I drink sparkling wine quite often, so I frequently look for less expensive sparklers. I love how sparkling wine works with so many different kinds of food. We enjoyed the S. Anderson with sushi. Yum.
I also think that drinking sparkling wine on regular basis shows that you understand that every day is a special occasion and life itself should be a celebration.