We should all descend upon Reims and Epernay. Why?
Three thousand bottles of Champagne will be given away to visitors spending at least 2 nights in the celebrated French wine region this summer. The brainchild of the Reims Tourism Office, the promotion requires travelers to stay in a local hotel or guesthouse, dine in a neighborhood restaurant, and pay for one leisure activity to receive their prize. That way the holiday can continue all the way home! I like this promotion.
News from Napa Valley: Sparkling wine producers are typically the first to pick since high acidity and low sugar levels in the grapes are desirable for making sparkling wine. Mumm Napa and Schramsberg were the first two wineries to begin picking. In years past, this day was marked by large boisterous festivities. This year, celebrations were more muted. And much like the Champagne region, the grapes are picked at night!
And for those of you who think you know good wine: Current market value, $550 million USD, of fraudulent wine on the secondary market as a result of forgeries by convicted wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan. According to wine authentication expert Maureen Downey, “almost none of it has been removed from circulation—it is being resold over and over again” by auction houses and retailers. Kurniawan was found guilty in 2013 of selling more than $1 million worth of fake fine wine each month from 2002 until his arrest in 2012. I can guarantee you that I do not own any forgeries!!!
Fortunately for me, Champagne and sparkling are less likely to be fraudulent. But one never knows for sure. I remember back in the 90s, buying a great vintage on the PBS wine auction was a guaranteed authentic wine. How many of oyu have been duped?
A trip to the Champagne region is a definite requirement for bubbly lovers. I spent several days there, mostly with appointments made well ahead of my visit. In hindsight, I wish I would have rented a car, allowing for a little more freedom between Reims and Epernay.
While I enjoy champagne, I also enjoy sparkling wines from other regions, particularly California. My preference is for the Domaine Carneros brut and brut rose’, followed by the Aimery cremant or the Veuve du Vern
ay (both from Loire).
Big not so secret, secret: Crémant is like Champagne’s fun sister, cut from the same blood, but cheaper and made in specific parts of France (like Burgundy, the Loire Valley, Savoie, Bordeaux, and so on). “These are produced all over France from grape varieties that work best for the region. The secondary fermentation and less ageing in the bottle create complex flavors and aromas very similar to Champagne at a substantially lower cost.”