New class of bubbly proving popular
Many years ago I was involved with the sales of a range of sparkling wines from France called Veuve du Vernay, but until someone very recently asked if we would represent them in Bermuda, the thought of them had faded from my mind.
To re-introduce them sounded like a good idea for us as the only sparkling wines that we stock from France are champagnes and they of course do not suite the everyday budget for many of us.
Veuve du Vernay also produces a whole new class of bubbly that is proving to be very popular worldwide. It is based on the custom called “la piscine” (French for swimming pool) that is popular on the beaches of St Tropez, where some folks drop ice cubes in their champagne to keep it cool.
A few big champagne houses have now come out with a version that seems to have worked particularly well for them as they have tailored the taste profile to perform especially well when served over ice cubes.
One particular champagne producer suggests adding summer fruits such as blackberries and strawberries, and indeed one of my fellow workers has just told me that she added a strawberry to our new wine and all in her house are sold on this new way to cool off on a hot August day.
The joy of adding new wines from France to our portfolio is that due to the lower value of the euro when compared with our dollar, the prices can be very attractive indeed.
We have in stock Veuve du Vernay Brut, Veuve du Vernay Rosé Brut, Veuve du Vernay Ice Demi Sec and Veuve du Vernay Ice Rosé Demi Sec and they are all line priced at $14.65.
The firm was founded by Robert Charmat, the son of Eugene Charmat, whose name will go down in history as the inventor of the bulk method of making sparkling wine that is now used throughout the world as an alternative to the labour-intensive and more costly “methode champenoise”.
The Wine Enthusiast magazine rates the regular brut a “best buy” and goes on to say: “Pale and crisp, this has yeast and herb flavours with a creamy character from the mousse. Light and dry this would make for a fine aperitif.”
Another publication calls it the ultimate party wine that is crisp, clean and brings the term “bang for your buck” to new levels. It is dry but there are bright hints of apple and pear along with the yeast that reminds one of home-cooked bread. The grapes used are colombard (40 per cent), sauvignon blanc (40 per cent) and chardonnay.
For a quote on their brut rosé I somewhat hesitantly go to a website called “Cheap wines that don't suck”. They say “Veuve du Vernay is the best inexpensive (I could not use cheap twice) bubbly I've come across in a while. It has nice a strawberry nose, toasty, creamy, floral flavours with a hint of white pepper and rose petals and a long, dry finish”.
And now for the ICE. Veuve du Vernay Ice Demi Sec is a blend of ungi blanc, chenin blanc and folle blanche.
In case you are not familiar with the term demi sec, it translates as semi-dry, which may be a little confusing as champagne and other bubblies so labelled actually are sweeter than brut by a reasonable amount. Pour your Veuve du Verney over a few ice cubes, drop in a strawberry and see what you think of this new idea.
Lastly, we have the Veuve du Vernay Ice Rosé and I am somewhat intrigued by the fact that it is produced from the same grape varieties used in our so very popular Provence rosés such as Whispering Angel and Mirabeau Pure.
It is a blend of syrah, cinsault and grenache that offers numerous fine bubbles, a vivid rosé colour and aromas of raspberries.
So far the only bottles of this new style of wine, whether they are champagne or our Veuve du Vernay, stand out on the shelf as they are covered by a white coating.
I should add that they should be served in a fairly large white wine glass and not a flute.
• This column is a paid for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East. 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St. George's (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits are available online at www.wineonline.bm