Cheers Nov-Dec 2014

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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Page 49 of 63 46 • November / December 2014 to Dan Davis, "wine guy" at the haute Creole restaurant. He has witnessed a trend akin to the ABC ("anything but chardonnay") philosophy: "Many consumers are turning on to the 'not Champagne'," opting for other sparkling wines such as cava, prosecco and those from other regions. "They are starting to ask for these wines even before looking at the list." The second best-selling sparkling wine at Commander's Palace is a custom cuvee by California's Iron Horse ($65 a bottle), a rosé blanc de noirs comprised of nearly 98% pinot noir. "I fi nd that pinot noir from the very cold microclimate of the Green Valley of Russian River Valley is particularly suited to sparkling-wine production, producing lovely fruit and nervous acidity," Davis says. Commander's Palace has seven sparkling wines by the glass priced $7.50 to $45, and 175 bottles priced $28 to $2,250. The selection includes 50 large-format bottles and 95 vintage selections dating back to 1971. Kaperski has also noticed an increase in sales of rosé and sparkling shiraz, malbec and Lambrusco (See sidebar "Spakling reds popping up," left.) There's also crémant sparkling wines from France, made in the same method—and sometimes with the same grapes—as Champagne. These offer guests the elegance and complexity of their more-exclusive cousin, but often at a lower price point. GROWING INTEREST IN GROWER CHAMPAGNES Also on the rise is the popularity—and availability—of grower Champagnes, referred to in French as Récoltant-Manipulant, or "RM." These wines have the distinction of containing entirely estate-grown grapes—a common practice in many other wine regions of the world, but not historically in Champagne, where winemakers typically buy grapes from other growers. Grower Champagnes appeal to sommeliers and oenophiles for their ability to better express terroir. Subject to less consistency and more vintage variation than other house styles, they are an intriguing gamble. At Cowboy Ciao, grower selections from Champagne houses Aubry and Egly-Ouriet are house favorites. But Kasperski notes that grower Champagnes often require a hand sell. Seagar's Prime Steaks and Seafood's McDougal sees an uptick in this style of Champagne. But he agrees with Kasperski that it doesn't sell itself. "Grower Champagne is just starting to fi nd its way onto the local market," McDougal says, "but for now it is the sommelier's task to see if the guest is open to trying something delicious but unfamiliar." Seagar's features the traditionally blended NV Bruno Paillard Brut ($90 a bottle.) fCowboy Ciao has seen an increase in sparkling reds. PHOTO BY STEPHANIE BREIJO SPARKLING REDS POPPING UP Red bubbles offer the weight, concentration and structure of still red wines, but with a mouthwatering effervescence that makes them fi tting partners with rich, meaty dishes. Sparkling malbec and shiraz, as well as a variety of indigenous Italian varietals, are increasingly popping up on wine lists across the country. At The Partisan, a 100-seat charcuterie-focused restaurant in Washington, D.C., operated by Neighborhood Restaurant Group, wine director Brent Kroll has six Lambruscos on the menu, priced $35 to $40 a bottle. These include the 2012 Fiorini Becco Rosso ($35 a bottle), a blend of 80% grasparossa di castelvetro and 20% lancellota, and the 2012 Donelli ($40 a bottle), a blend of 80% lambrusco di sorbara and 20% salamino. Lambrusco hails from Italy's Emilia-Romagna region, and modern styles have a clean—not cloying—fi nish. "It's perfect with charcuterie because it's acidic and tannic," says Kroll. "Its fruitiness and perceived sweetness is a great contrast to the savory meat." — KAM Wine director Brent Kroll at The Partisan in Washington DC. EFFERVESCENT EFFERVESCENT EFFERVESCENT EFFERVESCENT EFFERVESCENT EFFERVESCENT EFFERVESCENT EFFERVESCENT EFFERVESCENT ELIXIRS ELIXIRS ELIXIRS ELIXIRS ELIXIRS ELIXIRS RM Champagne Salon focuses on growers. PHOTO BY DEREK RICHMOND

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