Bubbles and Love - Sparkling Saint Clair Sangria
Ah, bubbles and wine. There are very few things in life that I love more than sparkling wine. It is perfect for any and every occasion and it's literally love in a glass. I'm serious. If a man was to ever try and win me over, he'd should bring over a bottle of bubbly. I think sparkling wine is one of life's greatest pleasures - every sip is like a thousand little molecules of elegance and happiness bursting in your mouth. Even getting drunk off of sparkling wine makes me feel super elegant and sophisticated and not some kind of dazed slob. What other beverage do you know that has been spoken so fondly of by so many important people? Quoting other people isn't really my thing but I don't think I could phrase my feelings more appropriately than this virtuous statement by Coco Chanel herself.
So pretty simple. I'd also expand the quote to include "And when I am eating breakfast."
So yes. Those of you who still feel like sparkling wine is only for fancy cocktail parties or celebrations because you have been living under a rock or got stuck in a time & space wine portal you are terribly, deeply and catastrophically wrong. But it's never too late to learn! This once upon a time perception of bubbly has thankfully been at least partially destroyed by the likes of very affordable and very delicious variations such as the now world famous Prosecco and Cava. Bubbly is now pretty much a staple of wine lists, brunches and afternoon delights of many around the world. As the world gets smaller and one can more easily get in touch with different wines from all over the world, we do however have the chance to step out of our comfort zones and try lesser known and more alternative styles of bubbly. Such as *drumroll* bubbly Sauv Blanc.
I was aware that Sauv Blanc in the form of bubbly was being made in various places around the world and tasted a few samples here and there but it wasn't until two weeks ago when I met the wonderful Sarina Ibbotson and her husband Mark Shaw from the Saint Clair winery in New Zealand that I really paid attention. They were in Bratislava to present their wines as part of the Roman Restaurants very popular concept of regular wine evenings where you get to "meet" a wine estate and taste a bunch of samples of their wines. Sarina is the daughter of the founders Neal & Judy and together with her sister works in the marketing department. Her husband Mark also contributes, managing the estate's presence on social media. That's one thing I love about wine - it really brings families together. It's not a coincidence that a lot of high quality estates are generational family businesses. It takes time and commitment.
I got to sit down with them an evening before the official tasting and talk about cab fares, earthquakes in New Zealand and wine. These two are one of the nicest people from the wine business I've ever met - very down to Earth and a great sense of humor but when it came down to the nitty gritty of vino they definitely knew their stuff. I could go on about how amazing their staple still Sauvignon Blancs are, but it was really the sparkling Sauv that took me by surprise.
*SPOILER ALERT - If you prefer a more earthy, toasty kind of bubbly that isn't too fruity (Champagne, any traditional method bubbly that's based on Chardonnay and the classical likes) YOU ARE NOT GOING TO ENJOY THIS WINE. This wine is basically an aromatic fruit bombshell - it's a Brazilian carnival naked samba dancer, fruit basket on head, sequins all over, tits out and all. But for those of you who don't mind being refreshed by a delicate balanced equivalent of this dancer but in bubble alcoholic form, YOU WILL LOVE THIS WINE.*
So ever since the tasting it's been on my mind as the ultimate welcoming spring&summer bubbly choice. I've also been dreaming about sangria the past week. So what did I decide to do? Combine these two things together, obviously, as a form of a welcome-spring-but-with-wine-instead-of-rain-dance.
The wine by itself is definitely specific and highly drinkable - the aromas are very pronounced with gooseberry, yellow melon and stone fruit shining through with slight characteristic Sauv herbaceous-ness in the background. The aromas kick you in the nuts in a good way, reminding me of Fruit Ninja. It's a perfect sparkling sangria wine for me because literally anything you will put into the sangria will only complement the already fruit characteristic of the wine but without killing the freshness. And oh boy was the result yummy.
*Interlude* - For those purists out there who say sangria is really only red wine sangria, go ahead and call this whatever you like. A spritzer for example. Doesn't make it any less delicious.
This time around, I basically went for what was available at the supermarket. My usual sparkling sangria recipe is a bit more fine-tuned - I love to have Prosecco with fresh apricots, basil, pineapple and some frozen green grapes (having frozen fruit instead of ice cubes doesn't water the drink down but keeps it cold) but this combination didn't turn out shabby at all. What's missing in the picture is a bit of soda water, to cement the wine and fruit together and not just make it wine with fruit thrown in. If I'm catering at a party I usually put in either a bit (or a bit more) of vodka or some complementary fruit schnaps to give the sangria some balls but this time I felt it would just ruin the character of this impeccable wine. Result - fantastic. The grapes and the mint give it the proper warm spring day feel while the rest of the fruit has summer knocking on your door. Plus with so much fruit inside, it's basically a super healthy drink and totally good for you. And last but not least, the wine is absolutely reasonably priced retailing at appr. 13 EUR like any better higher profile Prosecco. So what's there not to love - highly recommend for your next party.
Too early and not enough sunshine for sparkling wine sangria you say? Well try it out and then tell me what you think. It's never a wrong time of the year for sparkling wine sangria and I bet you tomorrow, it'll be sunshine and rainbows in Bratislava. (Editor's note (so my note) - THE SUN SHONE ALL DAY TODAY, today being the day after the publication of this post. See? Told ya).