There's a new champion in the McDuff Food & Wine Trail Bubbledome!
A sweet and funky Vin du Bugey-Cerdon, Patrick Bottex, La Cueille, NV has smashed the Italian champion, Ferrari Brut, NV (see here and here for past results) in a unanimous decision.
Bugey, in Southeastern France (in the Ain Department, see map below), is 20 miles up the Rhone River from Lyon and about the same distance from the Swiss Border. Historically, it was under the rule of the House of Savoy for those of you keeping track of the holdings of Renaissance kings.
The rosé sparkling wine from there, called Vin du Bugey-Cerdon, is VDQS, Vin Délimité de Qualité Superieure, which is just below the highest rank for French wine, AOC, Appellation d’origine contrôlée, but above VDP, Vin de pays (country wine), and Vin de table. Think of these as weight classes for our fighters, with the heavyweights being AOC and the table wines as flyweights.
According to the VDQS rules, it is made from either all Gamay or a Gamay and Poulsard blend. It is usually pink. In my experience, brightly so. Playful, often tasting like raspberry soda or sparkling kool-aid. And usually on the light-side, alcohol-wise, 8%. Bugey-Cerdon is a great conversation piece for a hot summer afternoon. Though rarely does the memory of the wine survive the sunset.
This wine from Patrick Bottex maps to my preconceptions of Bugey-Cerdon, except in one important category. It's awesome.
It's imported by the crème de la crème of West Coast Francophile wine importers, Kermit Lynch. You really can't judge a wine by it's front label, but a Kermit Lynch imprint on the back label usually implies a reasonable level of excellence in the bottle.
Here's the results:
A full-fizz method ancestrale sparkler, this looks (and tastes a bit) like black cherry soda. It has a sweet, yeasty nose of Mirabelle plum and strawberries. In the mouth, it's sweet, but not cloyingly so. In fact, it feels more sweet than it actually is. Your first sip you almost can't believe the big, bright, honeyed black cherry and strawberry flavors, but before the delicate, faintly chalky finish has passed, you realize it's really not as big, or ripe, or sweet as you thought. You blink, taste it again, and realize that this bottle of giddy pinkness has remarkable structure. You might even call it cultured, approaching elegant. But before you get carried away, you remember it is what it is, which is something like liquified Jolly Rancher cherry candy with a fake Pirate map label. Let's say it's like a guy in a tuxedo, eating cotton candy at the county fair. Oh, and he's got an eye-patch too.
I've seen it a few places, but I bought this one at K&L Wines, $20.
(map of Ain, France by Marmelad used per the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License. Don't borrow it without checking out how.)