For part 3, we now cover a trio of sparkling wines that most impressed me from Liberty Ireland’s portfolio:
Ca’ Morlin Prosecco Superiore Spumante Asolo NV (11.0%, RRP €29.99)
Although Prosecco continues to dominate the market for fizz in these parts, I usually don’t care for it; a single glass is often enough, and sometimes too much. Prosecco Superiore DOCG is another kettle of fish – indeed another drink – entirely. There are two main sub-regions – the larger Conegliano Valdobbiadene and the lesser known Asolo which we have here. Quite simply this is one of the best Proseccos I’ve tasted, and while that might sound like being damned by faint praise, it isn’t – this is worthy of your attention.
Nyetimber Classic Cuvée MV (12.0%, RRP €61.99)
When Nyetimber brought out their 2009 vintage Classic Cuvée it was hailed as their best yet, as was the 2010 which followed. The subsequent Multi-Vintage (MV) version was rated even better, and even Nyetimber fanbois such as myself could not help reserving a bit of skepticism for the claims – isn’t this what the Bordelais are wont to do? The proof of the fizz is in the tasting, so to speak, and in my not-so-humble opinion the MV is on another level still from the already very good vintage Classic Cuvée. Good enough, in fact, that it was the fizz I chose to celebrate my wedding anniversary on a trip away with my wife to The Twelve in County Galway.
For a touch of perspective, I recently retasted (drank!) the 2009. With several years bottle age it now shows softly baked apples, caramel and cinnamon -what a divine combination! The MV is obviously a little fresher in style but does show a little more red fruit character, despite the assemblage being broadly similar (MV: 60% Chardonnay / 30% Pinot Noir / 10% Pinot Meunier; 2009: 55% Chardonnay / 26% Pinot Noir / 19% Pinot Meunier). For those who like good Champagne, this is in the same class as Charles Heidsieck and Bollinger.
Champagne Devaux “Cuvée D” NV (12.0%, RRP €67.99)
Even though discussions on extending the permitted vineyard area for Champagne are (seemingly permanently) ongoing, it is noteworthy that some parts of the region are still recovering their former glory. The southerly Côte des Bar is one such region, with a few key producers flying the flag like Drappier, Albert Beerens and Devaux. Pinot Noir is king down here, with only around 10% of vines being Chardonnay and less than half that being Pinot Meunier (There are also minuscule amounts of Champagne’s other four grapes down here: Arbane, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Petit Meslier.)
For their top “Cuvées D” (plural because the bottle and magnum are a little different), 40% of the blend is Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs (what better place?!), Vitry and Montgueux plus 60% locally grown Pinot Noir. Only the finest first-run juice “cœur de cuvée” is used for the base wine, 90% of which is fermented in stainless steel and 10% in 300 litre old oak barrels. The reserve wines are very interesting: a quarter of them are kept in a “perpetual cuvées” (sometimes called a “perpetual solera”, but there is only a single layer of barrels from which older blended wines are drawn and to which newer wines are added.) The reserve wines make up 40% of a standard bottle or 50% of a magnum. After the prise de mousse the wines are matured for five years (bottle) or seven years (magnum) – several factors in excess of the mandatory minimum 15 months!
It’s a while since I tried a bottle of Cuvée D but I can happily report that – en magnum – it is a magnificent wine, with a combination of freshness and mature notes, red fruit and citrus, with lots of lovely brioche. Time to find myself a case of mags I think!
The Free Pour Series: