One of the best things in the world is listening to babies laugh. This week Ben started laughing and he couldn't be cuter. He hasn't laughed as hard as he did a few days ago, but every once in a while he adds a laugh-like squawk to one of his big smiles. And while getting up at six o'clock no matter what is getting a bit old, waking up to to a smiling and giggling baby is the world's best alarm clock. We've also been encouraging some of our close friends towards joining the baby club, but for now they seem to be content with their four-legged babies. We still love and enjoy our cats, but having a real baby is just a little bit more fun and rewarding. Nevertheless, sometimes a substitute can be as good as or even better than the original.
The same can be argued for wine. Many sparkling wine aficionados scoff at the idea of good bubbly being produced anywhere but Champagne. Obviously the big Champagne houses disagree with that premise or they wouldn't have invested in California. Many of the major Champagne houses (or their parent companies) have established wineries in California. Moët & Chandon has Domaine Chandon, G. H. Mumm has Mumm Napa, and Taittinger has Domaine Carneros. While most of the California sparkling wine produced by these wineries is marketed to a different audience than the original Champagne houses, there are a few tête de cuvées that rival the price and quality the real thing.
2000 Roederer Estate, L'Ermitage Brut, Anderson Valley
This tête de cuvée is an impressive substitute for its much more expensive cousins in France. Made from 53% chardonnay and 47% pinot noir. Very light golden color with lively tiny bubbles, the nose is full of baked apple and a nice hint of toast. Exceptionally smooth in the mouth, bright apples, lemons and even a little pineapple dance across the tongue with crisp acidity. Still quite young, this wine will continue to impress for years to come. 12% abv Very Good. Purchased $30 (tasted 7/7/11)