Just like the sound of the ocean reverberates within a shell, if you put your ear to a glass of sparkling wine, it sounds like the beginning of our universe—echoes of earliest creation. There’s something cosmic about the beads of bubbles rising in a glass. An entire galaxy, colliding chemical elements and working physical laws, contained beneath a cork. Fast forward 13.7 billion years to a mere five hundred years ago, when Benedictine Monks accidentally invented the oldest recorded sparkling wine in southern France’s Languedoc area. Up north in Champagne, still wine with a gentle sparkle was widely disdained as “faulty” by early winemakers during the Middle Ages. Dom Pérignon, the legendary “father of sparkling Champagne,” actually worked in his cellar tirelessly in an attempt to prevent his wines from falling prey to the fizz. Early sparkling wines were unlovingly deemed le vin du diable (the devil’s wine), as bottles often exploded in the cellar without warning. These violent, misunderstood creations became a thing of beauty, however, once mastered centuries later. Something devilishly powerful, harnessed and tamed. I like to think of monks like Pérignon down in the cellars, puzzling over fizzy wine with the same voracious interest as scholars like Isaac Newton studying the starry skies at the very same time. The famous Pérignon quote—“Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!”—is what he is said to have exclaimed upon tasting the first sparkling Champagne (though the first purported appearance of the quote is in a late 19th century print advertisement, more than a century after his death… that’s marketing for you). Speaking of marketing, here we have a sampler of six sparkling beauties in all their fizzy glory. From a lightly effervescent Venetian, to a dry, food-friendly Lambrusco, to our tried-and-true “Cachet Or” Champagne, these are sure to ignite your senses, and perhaps even induce lighthearted pondering of the universe! Pop a bottle and toast to the refreshingly simple pleasure of existence.
NV Vino Bianco • Elvio Tintero $8.95 Marco Tintero drinks at least a bottle daily over lunch. We prize this crisp, floral-scented blend for the same reason: at just 11.5% alcohol, having more than one glass is not only tempting but unavoidable.
NV Prosecco Superiore Brut • Sommariva $14.95 A Prosecco of total class and charm. In the shadow of the Alps, poor, well-draining soils at higher altitude yield elegant, aromatic bubbly worlds apart from the mass-produced Prosecco flooding the market.
NV Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Frizzante Secco • Fattoria Moretto $19.95 With its seemingly weightless texture and concentrated flavors of wild fruit and dusty herbs, this gem could accompany any meal imaginable.
NV Bugey-Cerdon Rosé “La Cueille” • Patrick Bottex $23 Upon arriving at Marcel Lapierre’s one morning, strewn around the cave, parking lot, and dining room were empty bottles of Bugey. Party wine for the Gang of Four! It is a red, sweetie, fizzy, low-alcohol rosé that’s pure fun.
NV Vouvray Brut • Champalou $25 From clay and limestone vineyards, the Champalous obtain remarkable complexity while the texture shows both creamy richness and austere minerality. Expect a racy, bone-dry sparkler with a fine bead and deep, focused structure.
NV Brut 1er Cru “Cachet Or” • J. Lassalle $45 The Cachet Or has a beautiful, firm texture, just the right amount of richness, a delicious fruitiness (apricot, peach, anise), and a touch of minerality. This juicy, accessible Champagne goes with everything.
SPECIAL SAMPLER PRICE $109.00
(a 20% discount)
Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol
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