Rose Bubbles

November 17, 2007

Let me start by saying that I am not a big Champagne fan. In fact I only like very few Champagnes, most of them are rose. My favorite, if I have one, is Laurent Perrier‘s Rose Brut. I like it perhaps because it is made from pinot noir, one of my favorite grapes, and I can taste the connection. Or perhaps because of the memories I have attached to this rose, the details of which are completely off topic now 😉

So the problem with LP’s Rose is its price. I do not like to spend a lot of money on a category that I am not fond of, even if the wine in question is one of the standouts. So I am always on the quest to see if there is an alternative. Let’s just say it is not easy to find. That is what I thought, until I came across Franz Weninger’s Brut Rose this past summer.

Franz Weninger is an Austrian wine maker near the border of Hungary. Weninger has three properties. One in the central Burgenland region of Austria, one in the Sopron/Balf region of Hungary and a joint venture with Attila Gere in Villany, one of the best red wine appellations in Central Europe. Mr Weninger has entrusted the operations of the Sopron/Balf winery to his son, Franz Reinhard, who is making some really interesting wines. One of these is a quite untraditional, yet quite tasty, sparkling rose brut made from the Central European Kekfrankos varietal.

The Weninger Kekfrankos Rose Brut is a fantastic sparkling wine. If you like rose Champagne, you will like this one. The bubbles are a bit more sumptuous and a bit rougher than those of LP’s rose, which means the wine is a bit less elegant but also very approachable and not intimidating by any means. It is fruitier than the LP, and because of the Kekfrankos grape, it has a bit higher acidity, but all in all I think it compares favorably. If you want to celebrate, I still recommend the LP rose, but if you want to just open a bottle of sparkling wine on a hot summer night, I think the price/value ratio of the Weninger rose brut is hard to beat. Good luck finding it, though, Franz Reinhard does not make more than a couple of thousand bottles a year. I really think there is a large market for high quality and not so pricey sparkling wines internationally. Any wine importers reading this blurb?

Name: Weninger Kekfrankos Rose Brut, NV

Rating: 8 out of 10

Body: Medium

Price: 18 euros

Got it at: Bortarsasag, Budapest, Hungary

Weninger Kekfrankos Rose Brut, NV

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While most of this blog is about wine, occasionally I talk about other liquid beauties. This one is about an interesting grappa we picked up in the small village of Anagni, an hour outside of Rome. I used to really dislike grappa primarily for its harsh, alcoholy taste that I can only appreciate in a loud bar on a Friday or Saturday night (presumably because other sensory experiences overshadow the horrible taste.)

So about 6 months ago we were hanging out in one of our favorite Italian restaurants and the Italian sommelier asked if we wanted to finish the meal with a shot of grappa. We declined. No thanks, the veal was amazing and frankly I do not want to kill my money’s worth AND pay for it. He asked what we did not like in a grappa, went back to the bar, brought back 2 full shot glasses and was insisting though that we try his 80 proof “gasoline”. While I never liked grappa, I figured at this point there was no way back. At least I did not need to pay for ruining my dinner.

He asked that we just simply sip on it and try to appreciate the taste. I was amazed. The grappa was smooth, it did not have any overpowering alcohol taste, it was full of fruit and left a beautiful finish in my mouth. The grappa that changed my mind about grappas was Moscato Poli. The experience was an eye opener and yet again in my life I learned not to judge and generalize.

Ever since that night I have been seeking out other grappas I may like. I had some limited success, though I admit I have also found some not so good ones reminiscent of the ones I have had in the past. Last time we went to Italy I had to ask for expert help and get a recommendation from a local Enoteca about interesting grappas. The chief of the shop told me that if I have never had one, I must try a Prosecco Grappa. A Prosecco Grappa I asked? Is it bubbly like Champagne? It turns out that while most of the Prosecco varietal is used to make sparkling wine, like they do with other varietals, the grape and especially its skin is also used to make grappa. Because most people associate Prosecco with a Champagne-like bottle, the Prosecco Grappa also comes in a similar shape.

The gentleman described the grappa as soft, flowery, aromatic and his words “for her” pointing at my wife. He was not far off in the description, though I am not sure what he meant by the last part as she drinks me under the table most of the time 😉

The grappa was (yes it is unfortunately gone) Grappa Prosecco di Valdobbiadene from the Marzadro Distillery. The distillery is the middle of Prosecco vineyards at the foot of the snowcapped Italian Alps in the Trentino region of Northern Italy. This part of Italy is so close to Austria that you have a mix of Germanic precision and Italian La Dolce Vite in people, architecture and wine. This grappa feels and tastes like that. At the end of the day, how many grappas have you seen in a Champagne bottle? If you can get your hands on it, even if you do not like grappa in general, I highly recommend trying this one.

Name: Grappa Prosecco di Valdobbiadene

Rating: 8 out of 10

Body: Medium to Heavy

Price: 21 euros

Got it at: Enoteca Lo Schiaffo Di Tagliaboschi, Anagni, Italy

Grappa Prosecco di Valdobbiadene IGrappa Prosecco di Valdobbiadene II