- World Of Wine
- Season 1
- Episode 10
Sommelier Tries 12 Sparkling Wines
Follow Andre on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/andrehmack/
Released on 03/09/2022
$375. Why does this wine cost this much?
Generally what it really comes down to is actually
what's inside and how it's made.
Hi, I'm sommelier Andrew Hueston Mack,
and today we're gonna be tasting
12 different sparkling wines from all over the world
ranging in price from $17 to over $500.
We're gonna find out if expensive Champagne is
worth the price, and where you can get
a great sparkling wine on a budget.
[mellow hip-hop music]
I think the biggest communication with sparkling wine is
that this is a party,
and I feel like every single day,
especially during these times, we have
something to celebrate, not only with Champagne
but any sparkling wine from around the world,
and today I'm gonna show you a lot of those.
The wine that we have here is
The Chook from South Australia.
This is sparkling shiraz,
and I think most people don't have a notion
that something like this exists.
This does exist. This is a really fun wine.
We're just gonna loosen the cage.
The cage is a safety item to make sure that the pressure
from in the bottle doesn't shoot out the cork.
They tell you not to take your hand off the cage.
We wanna hold the bottle
from the bottom, firmly grasping the top,
and you wanna twist the bottle back and forth.
Slowly, you start to feel the cork come out.
Air come out, so you can barely hear it.
I know that sometimes on TV, you hear it
pop and shoot everywhere and all those kind of things,
but you actually want to drink that.
You wanna consume that.
So you wanna try to keep everything in the bottle.
Pouring the wine, you start to see
the bubbles start to form.
That's called a mousse.
The finer the mousse, the more refined the wine is.
A little bit of blackberry, blueberry,
a little bit of cocoa nib.
Wow. That's so good.
It's pretty rich. It's round.
Definitely for people who drink red wine
and expect those kind of flavors and tannins,
there's lots of tannins in this wine.
So this wine is carbonated with the traditional method
and this is what all that means.
It's a wine that goes through two fermentations.
The first fermentation, that actually turns
the sugars into alcohol to make it what we call
a still wine,
and the secondary fermentation actually happens
inside the bottle.
When they add a little bit of sugar and yeast
and then they put a crown top on it.
So the bottle's inverted.
They put it in these wooden racks called a riddling rack,
and each time over the day, the wines are turned
a quarter of an inch each
so that the dead yeast cells actually collect
in the neck of the bottle.
After that point, it's a long drawn out process.
The necks are frozen.
The crown tops are opened.
The pressure through the bottle shoots out
all the dead yeast cells,
and then the wines are topped off
with a little bit of sugar to kind of balance
the acid in the wine and then a regular cork top is put
on top of it.
The price point of this, it's inexpensive
considering the method it's done.
The more hands on it means more labor means,
traditionally, more expensive,
but now that method actually can be done using machines.
There's a reason why we have this wine at this price point.
So next up we have Cava.
This is Spain's answers to Champagne,
and this particular producer is Via de la Plata.
So this here is a little sticker guaranteeing
the authenticity that it is Cava.
Most countries have laws governing how wines are made.
If you use grapes that aren't from that particular area
or those grape varietals, you can't call it Cava.
So this is kind of guaranteeing the quality
of this particular wine.
So pale straw color, this is beautiful.
Lots of straw, hay, apple.
Just a little bit of quince.
There's a little bit of what I call oxidation.
The wine just kinda tastes old.
It's almost like a caramel apple like it almost seems
like it's kind of roasted a slight bit.
So today when we look at a lot of different bottles
of sparkling wine, they'll have this saying Brut Nature,
Extra Brut, those kind of things.
That really refers to the dryness of the wine.
The drier the wine means it has less sugar in it,
and those actually happen after the secondary fermentation.
At this particular point, they top off the bottle
with a dosage.
So it's like a liqueur of sugar and finished wine
to kinda balance out the wine and to kinda create the style.
So this particular wine, there's no sugar or anything
added to the end of the bottle.
This wine is great.
I think for the price point, it's amazing.
They offer a lot of what Champagne has
at a fraction of the cost, and that's why I've always been
drawn to it.
So next up we have Prosecco from True Wine Connoisseurs,
and this is from Italy.
Prosecco is a cool climate place.
Cool climate grapes are really great for sparkling wine.
Little bit of grapefruit.
Just a little bit of fig.
Wow, white peach, slight bit of nutmeg.
This is great. This is refreshing, easy to drink.
I think you do a disservice by adding anything to it.
Prosecco is used by adding orange juice to make a mimosa.
This actually has some character.
Prosecco is a protected name place,
meaning that there's laws and regulations that gives it
a standard of quality that I think is great
and inexpensive, and I think it's something
that everybody can experience.
This is generally made with what we like to call
the Tank Method.
The white wine is made.
It's gone through the first fermentation,
but the secondary fermentation happens in a tank.
This is one way to bring down the cost
of something like Prosecco, because it's done
in very large batches.
Overall, I'm a super huge fan of this wine.
This wine I feel like is alive
and like I said, has some real kind of complexities
and depth to it.
So this is Chateau Deluxe.
This is all from the Willomette Valley in Oregon,
and this is pep-nat, which is short for pétillant-naturel,
an ancient way of making sparkling wine.
It does have a crown top finish, which you do find
in most beer bottles.
This is a blend of pinot noir, some riesling,
Gamay and I believe a little bit of chardonnay.
There's a little bit of funk here, pinot noir funk.
I like that.
Bright, fresh, lots of acid, raspberries.
Definitely tastes natural to me.
It tastes wild in a way, if that's a term that I could use.
So this wine doesn't go through a secondary fermentation.
These are all the bubbles that are trapped
during the primary fermentation,
and what you can generally see on the bottom is
you start to see a little bit of this sediment here.
Those are all the dead yeast cells
that we talked about before.
Natural wine, it's all made using natural yeast.
The interesting part about using this particular method
is that you can't really control the fermentation.
There's variations between each bottle.
And for a lot of people who enjoy these type of wines,
that's the beauty of the wine.
[Person Off-Screen] Is it polarizing?
Come on man. You trying to get me in trouble man?
No, there's a lot.
I think in wine, which is pretty much stodgy
any time that you introduce anything new,
there's always resistance.
Big versus small, natural versus non-natural.
For me, I like wine if it's good,
and this wine is good.
This is called Sekt, and this is
from Von Winning in Germany.
This is a riesling sparkling wine.
Doing research over the years, I discovered
that Germans were the largest consumers of sparkling wine.
First I was like oh, they drink a lot of Champagne,
and that wasn't it.
They make their own sparkling wine that they use
and consume on an everyday basis called Sekt.
So first I see kind of the pale yellowish color.
More caramel apple, slightly confectionary,
just a fun way of saying sweet.
Wow, that's pretty fascinating.
A typical characteristic that you get with riesling
is this petrol kinda quality to it,
almost like I'm at the car pumping gas in my car.
I can smell that.
I know that gasoline is not a favorable note,
but trust me, this is definitely something
once you experience it and understand it
that you'll kind of gravitate to it.
I think this wine is probably expensive for Americans.
The fact that it's imported to the United States just means
that it's gonna cost more.
We are off the South Africa.
I told you they make sparkling wine all over the world.
This is called Black Elephant Vintners.
So this is a chardonnay and pinot noir,
so a straw pear color.
Yeasty, toasted notes.
I think the first thing I noticed, that is the wine is
Red apples, a little bit of pear.
So when I talk a lot about ripe fruit,
that does indicate where it's grown.
This is South Africa, but it does have a diverse climate,
and what we talk about a lot in wine is micro-climates,
so a climate within a climate.
I look at the alcohol on the back of this bottle.
It's 11.5 %, so it's somewhat low,
meaning that they're picking early or that it comes from
a really cool climate.
This particular wine is called MCC,
method cap classique, and it's their version
of traditional method.
South Africa does have a robust wine industry.
It's something that they've been doing for years.
I think they make some really great wines,
from Steen to cabernet.
I've never had a sparkling wine from there,
but I think this is stellar.
Maybe we should drink more.
Next up is Schromsberg Blanc de Noirs 2017
This is actually one of my favorite
domestic sparkling wines.
This is really beautiful, almost kinda like
this salmon pink color.
Golden apple, a little bit of apricot, brioche,
some toast notes to it,
a little bit of mango, pineapple.
Really dry, really long finish.
In a blind tasting, I could call this Champagne.
This is red grapes that are making this particular wine,
so the phrase Blanc de Noirs means white from black.
The way that red wine actually gets
any of its color, a lot of red wine, is through the wines
kind of soaking on the skins.
White wine is made a little bit differently.
All the grapes are put into a press,
and then it's pressed.
The wine is pressed, so juice comes out.
Everything that's left over is thrown away.
It's not used anymore, so once you press it, it's done.
There is a little bit of skin contact here,
this kinda wonderful, beautiful salmon color.
You know this price point of $50 is kinda really encroaching
upon Champagne, and you start to think to yourself,
Why don't I go look for Champagne?
I think for people who are really into sparkling wine
and into wine, the idea that this person is making
this quality of sparkling wine in California
and not in a Champagne I think is a feat,
and I think it's a cool thing to kinda experience.
This is a Michel Gonet 2012, and this is Champagne.
This is all chardonnay, so Blanc de Blancs.
When I see Champagne on a bottle,
my anticipation is that it'll be good.
You can really taste the difference between this
and other sparkling wines from around the world.
There was a movement in champagne that happened
called grower champagne, where the people who actually grew
the grapes actually made the Champagne,
and this is one of those wines that is responsible for that.
Very small bubbles, you can start to see that here
just in the middle of the glass,
almost neon green with a little bit of yellow tinge.
Brioche, white flowers,
apple, little bit of bosc pear.
I kind of get that caramelization, and that means
that the wine has some bottle maturity to it.
Man that's good.
Champagne is really really complicated.
There's lots of rules and regulations just in order to be
able to put Champagne on the label.
The first and most important is
that it actually has to be made
from the Champagne region of France.
The French talk a lot about terroir.
Champagne, you know, the soil,
it can't be replicated.
There's lots of fossils there.
There's lots of chalky soil there,
and that alone adds complexity to wines
that you wouldn't find anywhere else.
There's a certain amount of grapes that you can use.
You can only hand harvest.
You can only hand riddle.
These are all things that make this wine labor intensive,
hence, therefore the price.
One of the best examples of Champagne at a reasonable price
is this particular wine.
This is 57 bucks, and so this is the great part
about what we started to talk about
as the grower Champagne movement, the idea of being able
to make it themselves kinda keeps the price down
a little bit.
The price isn't regulated,
and also I think that you get a better quality
at these particular grower Champagnes
than you would in anything that's mass-produced.
I feel that you get the most bang for your buck.
So still on Champagne, this is a rosé
100% pinot noir, so we see the color here, rosé,
so it does have some skin contact.
If you look in the center of the glass,
there's a very small stream of really small bubbles.
This is what you really pay for when you talk
about champagne, and this is a sign of quality.
Absolutely it makes for a better drinking experience.
Some of the larger bubbles, to me, seem
to kinda get in the way,
but also kinda dissipate pretty fast.
This is a steady stream. It's still going.
And then I think that's from being in the bottle directly
versus in a tank method, which is pretty big.
Really beautiful, elegant.
You get the elements of a forest floor.
There's leaves, damp earth.
It also smells like meat tenderizer to me.
I probably wouldn't use that in a professional setting,
but that's what it smells like.
Wow, this is kinda more of a candied apple, not sweet.
A little bit of white peach, nectarine,
So this is called Rosé de Saignée,
and saignée means blood.
It's a bleed off, so this is just basically
a light pressing, and as the juice runs over the skins,
it picks up a light color.
It makes sense for me that this wine is $90.
I actually think that it could be
a little bit more expensive.
This wine is grand cru, so these come
from the top vineyards within the Champagne region.
So in Champagne, you have Champagne, and then it's
broken down into several different regions,
and then with that, the vineyards are ranked
from premier cru to grand cru,
grand cru being the best.
This comes from a particular vineyard
that's deemed grand cru, so much like real estate
it's about location, location, location,
and with that comes the price.
This is Ridgeview. This is from England.
This is 100% Chardonnay, so in that term that we used
in France, blanc de blancs.
Lovely mousse, yellow straw color here.
Brioche, caramelized apples.
Very dry, really great acid and then some minerality
You think of a place like England that's so far North,
very cold, you wouldn't expect them to make
something like this.
You know, the colder it is, the problem that you have is
that getting the grapes to ripen.
Whatever you wanna say, global warming, climate change,
the earth is just a lot warmer place than it used to be.
We're really starting to see some really great wines
come from this particular area.
So this wine clocks in at about $116,
and you start to ask yourself why, right?
But you start to look at it.
This wine is from one single vineyard,
so like I said, location, location, location.
The more specific you can be about a particular wine,
generally the quality's up, which also means
that the price is up.
This is a vintage-dated wine. This is 2014.
It's made in the traditional method.
Everything's hand harvested, hand picked,
and those are all things that lead to a higher quality,
which ultimately results in a higher price.
This wine is a first choice for Buckingham Palace.
It's one of the most celebrated wines in that country,
and from tasting it, I can see why.
Continuing on into Champagne, this is
Philipponnat Clos de Goisses 2011.
This is 100% pinot noir, and this will come in
at a $375 price tag.
We see the color a little bit, golden straw
starting to darken.
That means that the wine has some bottle maturity to it.
White wine, as they start to age they become darker
It's the opposite for red wine.
This is pretty beautiful.
Marzipan, quite yeasty,
really refined, almost smokey on the pallet,
and then what's interesting about this particular wine,
that it will evolve.
Over the next 20-30 minutes, it will change.
You will start to taste more of something
and less of something else.
This is a beautiful expression of Champagne.
This is why people drink old Champagne.
As you can see, there's still really tiny tiny bubbles
coming out of the bottom, but as the wine ages,
the bubbles become less and less.
Ultimately, Champagne is a still wine
that becomes sparkling.
You really have to start with a great raw product
in order to make sparkling wine.
Clos des Goisses is considered their tête de cuvée,
the top wine that they make.
It's only the top grapes.
It's aged a lot longer.
All of those things play a role
into the price, and then again, we talk a lot
about hands touching it.
If you can't mechanically harvest, it's hand harvested.
If it's hand harvested, then it's hand sorted.
If it's hand sorted, then it's hand riddled,
and so at least for two years, three years,
or whatever they require to be special,
someone's in the cave turning these bottles.
That all costs money and ultimately it's the reason why
these wines cost the way that they do.
[Person Off-Screen] Does it taste $300 better
than the other ones? It does taste $300.
This wine actually tastes like a tête de cuvée.
This, to me, this wine has stature.
This wine has charisma.
It has all the things that I would want in a Champagne.
This is Cristal.
This is from Louis Roederer, a prominent Champagne house.
This is their tête de cuvée from 2008,
and what makes this pretty special,
this is Cristal Rosé,
so what do you get for $550 a bottle?
Well you get this kinda nice box here.
This is great.
A little latch and it opens up.
Some little notes.
It's got this beautiful cellophane.
You know what this looks like?
That butterscotch candy that your grandmama had
during the holidays, right?
Y'all don't-, your grandmama didn't have
butterscotch candy? [Andre laughs]
Very small bubbles.
Tart apple, some strawberries,
lots of yeasty, kinda bready kinda qualities,
pretty long finish, pretty ripe.
No, I like it.
I mean, I don't know if I would scream
at the top of my lungs that this is the best wine
I ever had.
It puts most people out of the price range, including me.
I would find something better to spend my money on,
but this is solid.
Why does it cost this much?
What's special about tête de cuvées, they're top wines.
They're only made in the best vintages.
If there's a best vintage, tête de cuvées will be made.
If it's not a great vintage, they will not make
tête de cuvées.
So it is the best of the best.
This Champagne house has been around for hundreds of years.
It's been associated with monarchies and kingdoms,
and the fact that we might have been introduced to it
through popular culture or whatever you might have it,
these wines have long-standing traditions
as being some of the best in the world.
Do you pay for some of that?
Of course you do.
Everything that we do, you pay for the name.
T-shirt producer, because it has a particular name on it,
it costs more.
You pay for the name in this.
Is it worth it?
That really depends on what your budget is
and where you're at, but if you have the means,
maybe you should try it.
So my favorite today is this particular bottle,
the Michel Gonet.
This delivers on all those things that I think that
even some of the tête de cuvées can't touch.
And at 57 bucks, all day, every day,
this is where my money goes.
We should be drinking sparkling wine every day.
Let's pop the top, and let's get the party started.
After all, it is called the roaring 20's, isn't it?
[mellow hip-hop music]
Drink more of this. You guys should drink this.
You should fight over this, all of you.
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