Sparkling wine review: J Winery Cuvee 20 Brut

J Winery Cuvee 20A dear friend gave me a 1.5 liter magnum of this elegant sparkling wine for Christmas and I almost peed my pants. (Available to buy online only, by the way). There’s nothing quite like looking at a family-sized bottle of bubbly and savoring the ensuing drinking fantasies. I haven’t opened the behemoth yet but the little 750-milliliter brothers of the California sparkler are a staple in my house. A blend of 49% Chardonnay, 49% Pinot Noir and 2% Pinot Meunier grapes, Cuvee 20′s new, sleek packaging celebrates Judy Jordan’s 25 years of making sparkling wine in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. They’ve had some time to get it right using the same production methods and grape varietals established in France. Sure, not that long in French Champagne terms but, hey, we’re a new country full of zeal, still finding our wine way.(Read the difference between Champagne and sparkling wine).

The word “elegance” doesn’t do J Winery Cuvee 20 justice. Graceful and genteel might be more appropriate. This sparkling wine is subtle, delicate yet flavorful like a southern belle with a big personality. Crisp red apple, almond cookies and lemon-lime on the palate encourage a light-weight fizzy dance on the tongue. Refreshing acidity adds to the moment and this wine bears a long, lingering finish of citrus. Quite spectacular.

Sweetness: 2 out of 10
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Price: $18-$30
Availability: Widely available at fine wine retailers.
Food pairing: Salads with lemon-vinaigrette, raw oysters, triple cream cheeses like St. Andre and toasted nuts as an appetizer.

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