Jouluviinit. Alkon parhaat viinit jouluksi: Kuohuviinit

Ok, maybe not all the best, but some of the best picks. And we start with the star of Christmas: sparkling wines.

Contrary to one can think, you can easily spend the whole Christmas meal with sparkling wines. If that is the case, aim at a more powerful wine. The good thing is that Alko selection of sparkling wines is really on the top. Diversity, quality and decent prices (comparatively). Let’s start.

Kuohuviini 1: light and aromatic, for aperitif, or simply to enjoy before the meal

Chile, Cono Sur Brut (548407) 10,90€ : Easy-drinking wine and one of the only value sparkling that I can advise. It is really fine for a glass or if you want to try a cocktail (by mixing it with lakka for instance).

Spain, Codorniu Anna di Codorniu (505457) 11,48€ : Classic Cava. Simple but nicely done. In my opinion it is a better buy than Cuvée Raventos, which is a bit of a clumsy wine.

Italy, Jeio Brut Prosecco (552007) 13,97€ : Prosecco are the perfect aperitif. They are light, aromatic, not too expensive.

New-Zealand, St Clair Vicar’s Choice (591767) 14,93€ : More original, the sparkling Sauvignon. Perfect for aperitif but slightly more difficult to pair with food. It will do good also to celebrate the New Year.

Kuohuviini 2: full bodied wines, that can be served on the meal.

Chile, Leyda Extra Brut Méthode Traditionnelle (536977) 20,10€ : Can also do well as aperitif. This is a 100% Chardonnay : pure, enjoyable and crisp… Typical party sparkling, but with still a high quality factor.

Spain, Seleccion Ravento Pinot Noir Brut (587077) 13,99€ : This is one of the good rosé from Alko’s list. Typically, the wine that can last over the dinner. At his best after one or two years of cellaring.

Austria, Szigeti Grüner Veltliner Brut (586117) 15,78€ : Easier than the next wines, more aromatic than Chardonnay based sparkling. Will do great on Christmas eve.

Spain, Freixenet Elyssia Gran Cuvée Brut (531257) 18,83€ : The competition of Codorniu in mass produced Cava. This is a very interesting cuvée. Fresh but with a very interesting complexity (for your information, if you fly once though Frankfurt Airport, it is on sale in the Duty free shop at 12€).

Germany, Barth Riesling Brut (513537) 19,89€ : Original Riesling based sparkling. A very very good wine. 100% worth the price. WIll do great on the graavilohi.

Italy, Ca’ del Bosco Cuvée Prestige (558057) 29,90€ : Until recently you could still find it around 25€… anyway… this is a very good wine, complex, powerful… a realy great Franciacorta. It develops a lot with a bit of cellaring (one-two years).

France, Jacquesson Cuvée 736 Extra Brut (588767) 44,00€ : We enter here the world of great Champagnes. To keep in the cellar for more emotions. 737 will be even more spectacular, but this is already a fantastic wine.

France, Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve (564737) 47,90€ : More full bodied than Jacquesson. An other reference in the world of Champagne.

Kuohuviini 3: a touch of sweetness, sparkling that can live through the desert.

France, Jaillance Grande Tradition (008821) 13,77€ : Are you looking for sweet and aromatic? This is your wine. A direct, very expressive and well balanced sweet wine. If you like sweet or if you want something to match the desert. A great value for money wine.

France, Pol Roger Rich Demi-Sec (578657) 44,90€ : Here comes THE reference of sweet Champagne in France. A MUST if you are lucky enough to find it. This is good but it will improve immensely if you cellar it 2…5…10 years!

So here were my suggestions in term of sparkling. I hope you will find your ideal Christmas companion among them.

ALKO, Jouluviinit: Kuohuviinit

Last option for Christmas: a sparkling. Clearly, considering the composition of Finnish meal, it can be more than a substitute. Again, you will find first a number of reference, then the name of the producer, the name of the wine, the price and the reference number from Alko.

40: A light sparkling but with enough to enjoy.

41: One of the most interesting sparkling Rosé from Alko. Flower and red fruit aromas. It is much better after one or two year of extra ageing in bottle. WINEOPS PICK.

42: More Champagne-like. Toasty, fruity. Nice long finish. Great with food. WINEOPS PICK.

43: More exclusive than the previous one. A big wine that require some ageing.

44: Jacquesson is one of the most reliable Champagne brand. However 734 is quite average, you must aim at 735, which has just been released. To be aged one to five years.

45: The Champagne of James Bond. This also needs ageing though it taste very well right now.

Alko’s: Cordon Negro and Carta Nevada by Freixenet (Spain, Cava)

This week starts in English because of this week-end tasting, which involved two of the basic widely available Freixenet Cavas.

What is a Cava? A Cava is a sprakling wine from Spain. More specifically, Freixenet is based in Catalonia, next to Barcelona in Sant Sadurni d’Anoia. This sparkling is made in the same way as Champagne in France with a second fermentation held in bottle. Yet, the law is more flexible (eg it is not required to age it as long as Champagne, yields are not so strict either…), the grapes are different (Parellada, Macabeo, Xarel-lo… and recently a bit of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, like in Champagne) and the climate is also much warmer. It is possible to find very high quality Cava in Catalonia, like the one of Gramona or Raventos. Big firms’ best sellers like Anna de Codorniu by Codorniu are very servicable, the same with the « more confidential » Freixenet Vintage 2007.

Freixenet is by far the biggest producer so it was interesting to check on its two basic cuvées Cordon Negro and Carta Nevada. These two Cavas are produced from the traditional grape varieties, Parellada, Macabeo and Xarel-lo. I wrote already a note about them in a previous article, HERE.

Cordon Negro (Brut) is definitely what we can call a basic wine. It is cheap, it taste cheap and it does not go beyond your expectations. Aromatically, it is quite poor. The mouth feel is fresh and evaporates fast. It is easy drinking, beer-like. No bad after taste. This is decent technically speaking but it is pleasureless. Forget about it, the basic Codorniu is better.

Wineops’ rating: 40/100 ; 0 0

Carta Nevada (Semi Seco) is a sweeter version, bit cheaper too. The sweetness is not overwhelming which makes it difficult for it to fit with any desert. Kind of an appetitive wine again. The smell is neutral. The taste is a bit sweet and bitter in the end. This is again technically correct and this time truly unpleasant. Pass, forget about it, obliterate it form you memory!

Wineops’ rating: 38/100 ; 0 0

The result of this tasting is clear: avoid the basic Freixenet Cavas. Aim rather at basic sparkling form Italy or South America. For your information, I repeat that the Freixenet Vintage 2007 is good. This is so uninteresting that I don’t even link Alko site.