Destination I Do
Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ring in the New Year with Endless Bubbles!

Words by Autumn Millhouse
Life is flat without bubbles. Todd Graff, winemaker for Frank Family says “try to drink a glass of sparkling wine and not smile.”

On this surprisingly warm Fall day as we toured the riddling room, a technique that sets sparkling wine apart from still wine, discussing what makes bubbles so special it became apparent Todd and I both share a passion for bubbles (my preferred lingo). Perhaps it’s the delicate aroma or the visually alluring appeal of the bubbles creating a ribbon atop the wine. Maybe it’s the flute glass that makes the sparkling look so chic or the subtly sweet taste. Regardless of the exact attraction, we both concur that bubbles from Napa Valley rival all other adversaries, including Spanish Cava, Italian Spumante, German Sekt and even French Champagne.

Equally exciting as sipping bubbles with Todd was commencing our time together with a time honored tradition; opening a bottle of sparkling with a saber. Thrilling and scary at the same time, I raised the blade with my right hand under Todd’s direction and held the bottle with my left until I was confident enough to bring down the blade and pop the bottle open. Inquiring about this dramatic wine opening method, he shared with me the legend that Napoleon was a great friend of Moet during the French Revolution and before the French troops went into battle his generals would pull their swords out and open the Moet’s wine as a way to foretell their success or failure in combat. It’s exactly these kinds of interesting and intriguing stories that make me fall even more in love with sparkling wine.

Presented are more reasons to discover and savor Napa Valley sparkling wine as we profile Napa Valley Wineries who produce superb sparkling wine and suggest our favorites for the upcoming 2010 festivities. Welcome 2010 with a joie de vivre attitude and an outstanding bottle of Napa Valley bubbles.

Best Loved Bubbles:
Frank Family Vineyards
Located in the historic Larkmead winery in Calistoga (the 3rd oldest winery in Napa), Frank Family Vineyards is owned by longtime Disney executive Rich Frank and Connie Frank. Originally purchase in 1992 with partner Koerner Rombauer, Rich Frank and Family assumed full control of the winery in 2007. The limited-production, fruit-forward, yet balanced wines have a loyal following that is due both to the popularity of Winemaker Todd Graff’s “blockbuster” wines and the convivial tasting room. Only a small quantity of this California sparkling is made by Frank Family and only sells at the winery, and through their website.
Best-Loved Bubbles: Frank Family1997 Signature Brut, Frank Family Blanc de Blanc and Frank Family Pinot de Blanc Noir

Known for their breathtaking patio views, and friendliness towards four-legged friends, Mumms is a local favorite. They produce a large variety of Sparkling Wines, and have recently scored 90+ points from top wine publications Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator. Master musician and Napa Valley fan, Carlos Santana, has collaborated with winemaker, Ludovic Dervin to create Santana Brut, an exclusive sparkling wine that transforms you into a groupie with its ‘beautiful, persistent mousse and fine-textured bubbles.’ In addition to sparkling Mumms also has a remarkable photography exhibit that displays works from an array of talented photographers such as Ansel Adams.
Best-Loved Bubbles: Mumms Sparkling Pinot Noir, Mumms Cuvée M Red and Mumms 2000 DVX

Photo Courtesy of Devin Cruz

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