Fizz and friends from the Quintessential Wines tasting earlier this year:
Druisan Prosecco Colfondo NV (12.5%, RRP €17.95 at Quintessential Wines, Drogheda & quintessentialwines.ie)
A world away from the cheap and (sometimes not so) cheerful industrial Prosecco which is on special offer in the supermarket, this is an entirely different style of fizz. Whereas the vast majority Prosecco undergoes a second fermentation in a tank, with colfondo this takes place in the bottle. Unlike the traditional method there is no disgorgement, so the lees remain in the bottle.
This is much more yeasty and smooth than “normal” Prosecco. With no disgorgement there’s no dosage either, but it really doesn’t miss the addition of sugar. This is a wine of character, far more interesting than other sparkling wines in this price bracket.
Loxarel Refugi Brut Nature Reserva 2013 (12.5%, RRP €33.50 at Quintessential Wines, Drogheda)
On to Spain now, and a fantastic Cava made in the Penedès by Loxarel (who also make the natural orange wine reviewed in Part 3). This is predominantly made from the local
speciality Xarel-lo; the vines are over 70 years old and a portion of the base wine was fermented in 300-litre old oak barrels which adds texture and longevity. A touch of Chardonnay is included for freshness. After the second fermentation the wine spends three years on the lees before disgorgement, with no dosage. In short, this is bloody lovely! There’s lots of lovely creamy lees character and a dry finish.
Vilmart Grand Cellier Brut NV (12.5%, RRP €64.95 at Quintessential Wines, Drogheda)
The final fizz is from France, more specifically Rilly-la-Montagne in the Montagne de Reims subregion of Champagne. The blend is 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir from two specific parcels: “Les Hautes Grèves” and “Les Basses Grèves”, the upper and lower (river) banks respectively . Vilmart’s house style involves blocking (or not encouraging) malolactic fermentation for freshness, and ageing the base wines in old, larger-format oak barrels for texture and longevity (through micro-oxygenation).
This is well made, classy, proper Champagne. There’s a citrus frame (from the Chardonnay) with some red fruit notes (from the Pinot) interwoven. Biscuit creaminess in enhanced by very fine bubbles and a lively crisp finish.
Château de la Roulerie Coteaux du Layon 1er Cru Chaume Les Aunis 2013 (12.0%, RRP €34.50 at Quintessential Wines, Drogheda)
Sweet Loire wines are one of the most overlooked wine categories (closely followed by most of the rest of the Loire) and hence reasonably priced. Chenin Blanc excels in this role as it can produce high levels of sugar while maintaining balancing acidity.
Château de la Roulerie make three different sweet wines; the standard Coteaux du Layon, Coteaux du Layon 1er Cru Chaume (which is the area just around the village of Chaume) and then this wine from a specific vineyard. All of them have botrytised grapes, but climbing the quality ladder gives increased concentration. The perfect balance of sweetness, acidity and oak. Sauternes, eat your heart out!
Quintessential and the Fifth Element
So finally, in what is fittingly the fifth part of this series, I can explain the jeu de mots in the title, the relationship between Quintessential and The Fifth Element. In classical times it was believed that everything in the physical world was made up of a small number of elements. One version according to Empedocles gave four: earth, water, air and fire. Plato, Aristole and others added a fifth called (a)ether, also known as quintessence.
Over time, quintessential came to mean the more perfect example of a particular type of thing. Given how I have described some of Quintessential Wines’ bottles as ethereal, I think it’s a perfectly fitting name!
The Fifth Element Series: