(This story recently appeard in Dan's Papers)
"Drinking the Stars" at Vineyard Weddings
By Lenn Thompson
Sparkling wine, whether you call it Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, or just bubbly, is the perfect wine for romance…and for a wedding. It really is the most romantic of wines and it is a time-honored tradition to toast the new bride and groom with a twinkling flute of Champagne or another sparkler.
But far too often, the sparkling wine served at special functions, especially weddings, is bland at best and acrid at worst. And, because weddings are many people’s only real exposure to sparkling wine, these experiences leave them with, well, a bitter taste in their mouths.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Here on Long Island, hidden amongst the endless bottles of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay, you can find some delicious, unique sparkling wines that are perfect for a wedding or any other celebration.
Pugliese Vineyards in Cutchogue offers four bubblies, all available for tasting at their tasting room.
The Pugliese Blanc de Noir “Nature” Champagne 1999 ($19) is made with 100 percent Pinot Noir grapes in traditional French style, and is crisp and dry with a fruity apple nose and delicate mouth feel and finish. Ever so slightly pink, it is a no-brainer for any romantic event.
The Pugliese Blanc de Blanc Brut 1998 ($18) is less dry without being sweet. Their most popular bubbly, it’s made entirely from Chardonnay grapes and is a great value at this price.
If you’re looking for a slightly sweeter sparkling wine, try the Dolce Patricia 2000 ($19), a rosé sparkling wine made with Merlot grapes. It’s as sweet as an Asti Spumante, but features definite strawberry and plum character.
For a sparkling wine that is a bit off the wall, give Pugliese’s Sparkling Merlot 1999 ($18) a try. Ruby red and 100 percent Merlot, this light, fruity sparkler is great with food, though it is not as elegant as the others.
In addition to their delicious bubblies, Pugliese offers hand-painted bottles that can be customized for any occasion. They make a great bridal party gift.
Pindar Vineyards offers 1998 Cuvee Rare Champagne ($28). This super-dry wine is made 100 percent from Pinot Meunier, a popular Pinot Noir mutation from the Champagne region of France. Its color is best described as lightly copper and, after six years of aging, it is slightly yeasty on the nose and nutty on the palate.
Pinot Blanc, another Pinot Noir mutation, is the basis for Lieb Family Cellars’ 2001 Blanc de Blanc ($35), their first release since the sold-out 1994 vintage. This exciting new release is light, pale yellow and citrusy, with just a hint of pear and honeydew melon. Perfect for shellfish or with light salads, there were only 125 cases disgorged, so get yours today.
Lenz Winery features two of the most upscale and sophisticated sparkling wines on Long Island. Their 1996 Cuvee ($30) is perfect with food, or for a wedding toast. 70 percent Pinot Noir and 30 percent Chardonnay, it’s light, dry and readies your palate for food, or more wine. The Pinot Noir drives the fruitiness of this wine while the Chardonnay gives it a slightly nutty character. Seven years on yeast lends a nice nose and a creaminess as well.
For a real treat, pick up a bottle of the Lenz 1991 Cuvee RD. Made from the same grapes, in the same proportions, the heartier fruit from this vintage, and an additional five years on yeast, gives it an even more yeasty nose and much more pronounced honey and caramel flavors. And if you aren’t getting married or toasting at a wedding, this sparkling wine is still perfect with a fall meal of roasted pork.