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Fortino California "Champagne"

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I received this as a gift from a relative. The bottle is actually labeled "California Flavored Champagne" (I'm skipping over the appellation issue - these grapes are grown in or near Gilroy, CA). I took one sip & I think the almond "flavor" is overwhelming. To me this tastes like a fizzy almond drink, not champagne. Anyway, I'd like to serve (so he can taste) a moderately priced champagne & I will be doing my regular K&L run in the next few days. Looking at the bottom of the price range there: Laurent-Perrier Brut; Piper Heidsieck Brut; Perrier Jouët Grand Brut; Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve. Suggestions are very much appreciated. I'm not looking for fireworks or a "big name" bottle - I'd just like to learn more about champagne myself by driking something typical, and also letting my well-intentioned relative try some too! Thanks in advance and happy holidays.

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  1. Having a little bubbly with Rude Rib Rube?

    Sorry, couldn't resist after you initiated one of the most interesting soap-opera sagas on CH!

    Here are some good choices at K&L -- love that store!
    (BTW, always look for the words methode champenoise on the label.)

    Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut at $16.99. This is good stuff and a great buy.
    Domaine Mumm Napa Brut Prestige at $13.99 (even cheaper at Safeway now).
    Argyle Willamette Valley Brut $24.99
    Tarlant Brut Reserve Champagne $32.99, a great buy. Wonderful for the money.
    ---and even better, the Tarlant Cuvee Louis Brut Prestige Champagne at $49.99
    Frank Bonville Brut Selection Blanc de Blancs Champagne $29.99 (Grand Cru Avize)
    --------and one of the best Champagnes at any price, also by Bonville,
    ******The Frank Bonville Cuvee Les Belles Voyes Champagne $64.99, my current fave under $$100

    3 Replies
    1. re: maria lorraine

      I'll never live down the Rib Guest ;)

      Thanks contributing to my bubbly education. So far I only know what I don't really like: Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noir, Moet White Star; almond "champagne". I'll definitely have to try the Roederer & Mumm (since a trip to Safeway is probably in the cards too). The K&L newsletter always raves about the Tarlant. I'm off to "school"!

      1. re: SanJoseHound

        About Rude Rib Rube...That thread was one of the most sociologically complex threads ever on CH, so thank you -- no living down required. When you didn't tell us what happened, many of us were left hanging or were concerned. Finally, you spoke.

        And for those of you reading this and wondering...
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/411218

        1. re: SanJoseHound

          I still havent forgiven you for keeping us hanging for 3 months!

          And Ireland is no excuse.

      2. >>>> The bottle is actually labeled "California Flavored Champagne" (I'm skipping over the appellation issue - these grapes are grown in or near Gilroy, CA). I took one sip & I think the almond "flavor" is overwhelming. To me this tastes like a fizzy almond drink, not champagne. <<<<

        Uh, no.

        This wine is made either by Franzia in the Central Valley, or by Weibel, Fortino purchases the wine and has it bottled for them - -as do a number of California wineries which offer "Almond Champagne" -- and the grapes never saw Gilroy. It's all Central Valley fruit.

        True Champagne comes only from the Champagne region of France, located (roughly) some 90 miles east of Paris.

        Sparkling wines are made all over the world, however. Sparkling wines which are produced using the same techniques as a "true" Champagne can be labeled as being:
        -- "Produced according to the Champagne Method"
        -- "Naturally Fermented in This Bottle" (Note the word "THIS")
        -- or in French, "méthode champenoise" or "méthode traditionelle."

        Some sparkling wines have the second fermentation in tank, rather than in the bottle. These are labeled as
        -- "Charmat method"
        -- "Bulk Process"
        -- "Cuve close"

        And some sparkling wines are actually fermented in one bottle but then transferred to another bottle for sale. These will be labeled as
        -- "Transfer Process"
        -- "Naturally Fermented in The Bottle" (Note use of the word "THE," rather than "THIS")

        Fortino's "Almond Chamagne" not only wasn't made by Fortino, but it was Charmat method.

        * * * * *

        Some widely available suggestions (in other words, there may be better out there, but these shouldn't be too hard to find) . . .

        From California, you might want to try:
        Roederer Estate http://www.roedererestate.net/
        Domaine Carneros http://www.domainecarneros.com/
        Mumm Napa http://mummnapa.com/
        Chandon Napa (aka Domaine Chandon) http://www.chandon.com/web/index.cfm

        From Oregon:
        Argyle Winery http://www.argylewinery.com/

        New Mexico:
        Gruet Winery http://www.gruetwinery.com/

        All of these are quite good, and produced according to the true méthode traditionelle.

        For true Champagne, the possibilities are virtually endless. Of the four you mention, I'd opt first for the Charles Heidsieck.

        1. Under the good sparkling wine category, Shramsberg is always nice.