California Sparkling by a Champagne-Born Winemaker

Hi Friends:

My friend Rob over at Odd Bacchus and I got to interview Pauline Lhote, the head of winemaking at Chandon, on our hit show on YouTube called “Name That Wine,” so I wanted to share it here.

At age 34, Pauline is making beautiful sparkling wines – all in the traditional method – also known as Methode Champenoise, where the second fermention – the one that gives birth to the bubbles – happens inside each bottle. Other sparkling wines like Prosecco and often (but not always) Cava, are made in the Charmat method, where the second fermentation happens in a big tank, and then the bubbles are bottled.

She brought a Blanc de Noirs, which is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir grapes, a Brut (which is the classic Champagne triple-play of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir grapes), and something new and fun: Sweet Star.

The Sweet Star is – as the name implies – a touch on the sweet side. Normally, I’m not a fan of sweet wines (I’m lookin’ at you, Moscato), but this one was different. It was just the teensiest bit sweet, and Pauline talked about how fun it is to make a speedy cocktail by serving it in a wine glass, on ice, with a garnish, like a grapefruit peel, orange slice or cucumber spear. Fun, right? My personal fave with any slightly sweet sparkler: add a few drops of Campari – which turns down the sweet and turns up a sexy pink or red hue!

This is exactly the wine you want at brunch, actually.  It would pair well with savory items like frittatas and salty bacon or sausage and also sweet, doughy delights, like pecan rolls, coffee cake or blueberry muffins. And I think we all know the brunchiest day of the year is coming soon – Mother’s Day – so, you’re welcome!

I hope you enjoy. We loved talking to her and tasting her wines. Plus, they’re affordalicious, at roughly $20 (sometimes less, on sale!) so we can all drink bubbles any night of the week!


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