Cameron Hughes Wine Lot 916 offers a vintage Champagne-style experience for a fraction of the vintage-Champagne price.
Get ready to celebrate because Lot 916 is here to give you plenty of vintage Champagne-style drinking at a fraction of Champagne’s lofty prices. The grapes came from a coveted Sonoma source in this 2021 vintage, but just about everything else about this sparkler screams top-shelf French bubbly. We dare you to pour it blind for your friends and see if they can tell it’s from California—we couldn’t!
Stylistically, Lot 916 takes its cue from the best of Champagne’s vintage sparklers. First, it’s composed of 90% Pinot Noir, 6% Chardonnay, and 4% Pinot Meunier, just like wines from the best sparkling wine houses of northern France. Next, it’s made in the Méthode Champenoise style, with a secondary fermentation taking place in the bottle to capture the biscuit-like, brioche character that marks the best of Champagne. Finally, the dosage delivers a mere six grams per liter of sugar, making it Brut or Extra Brut in style and hence, fresh, energetic, and exceedingly dry with a lovely mineral finish.
Equally as impressive is the winemaking team behind Lot 916, which consists of veterans who are experts in the traditional method of sparkling wine production (having done stints at the likes of J Vineyards and Winery, Balletto Vineyards, Delicato Wines, and Clos du Bois). Their bubbles regularly score 90+ points with top-tier critics, and have taken home Gold and Double Gold medals at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, Sonoma County Harvest Fair, the Press Democrat North Coast Wine Challenge, and the International Women’s Wine Competition.
Watch or listen as Nicole Muscari, your Pocket Wine Advisor, walks us through a tasting.
Tasting Video Highlights:
00:18 Méthode champenoise
00:54 The Color
01:02 The Nose
01:32 The Palate
01:45 Pairing or Aperitif
02:12 Where in your cellar?
A sparkling Blanc de Blancs made just like Champagne, from 100% Napa Valley Chardonnay grapes. We had to triple-check that the fact sheets on this great sparkling find weren’t somehow mixed up with a great traditional-method Champagne. Lot 907 is the kind of wine that makes you do a double (or triple) take: “Wait, this is from Napa Valley?!?”
Indeed it is—Lot 907 is a sparkling Blanc de Blancs made just like Champagne, from 100% Napa Valley Chardonnay grapes (with a mere four grams of sugar per liter in the Brut style). Our extended CHW team happens to include a nearly four-decade veteran sommelier and wine director who helped source this exceptional sparkler—aged in the bottle by the producer!—and offered it to us thanks to our deep industry contacts. Simply put, Lot 907 is the kind of wine that put CH Wine on the map for its incredible deals!
Shimmering visually and on the palate, Lot 907 gives much more expensive bubbles a serious run for their money. Opening with elegant floral, toast, and apple notes, the fine bubbles and lifted nose belie the tropical richness that waits once you get into your mouth. Every sip of this sparkler invites yet another, and another, and another… Let’s just say you will want to have plenty of bottles on hand, as this kind of price/quality ratio will put Lot 907 at the top of your “house pour” list this summer.
Opening with a clear light blond hue, a gorgeous bouquet, and a fine, persistent mousse, the casual observer should be forgiven for at first mistaking this for a classy, non-vintage Champagne in the glass. Aromas of white flower blossom, Granny Smith apple, brioche, and melon are met with just-ripe tropical fruit flavors, and the result is a pleasure to imbibe. The mouthfeel is classic Champagne-method bubbly, at once round, smooth and inviting, while also being energetic and buoyant. This 100% Napa Chardonnay sparkler shimmers both visually and on the palate and gives a lot of more expensive bubblies a serious run for their money.
Watch as Wanda Mann, Wine Writer and Educator, walks us through a tasting and discusses this exciting sparkling wine.
Wine Tasting Highlights:
01:08 The Color
01:53 The Smell
02:05 The Taste
Tasting Video Transcript:
00:00:08 –> 00:02:37
Wanda Mann says:
Hello, Wanda Mann here in the CH Wine
Did tiny bubbles make you happy? Some of you know that song? When I was little. I loved that song.
I used to think it meant blowing bubbles that we did as kids. Now I’m like, It’s about sparkling wine. It’s about champagne.
Today I have a wine that’s made in the same method as champagne. But it is not champagne. So LOT 907 is our 2021 Sparkling Chardonnay from Napa Valley.
We hear Napa.We think big, robust reds or maybe some of those robust chardonnays as well. But did you know Napa is also known for traditional method? Méthode champagne was sparkling wines.
Now, this wine is 100% chardonnay. So if you want to impress your friends, you can say Blanc de Blancs, which means it’s the white of whites.
It’s made of 100% Chardonnay. This wine spent 15 months resting on the Lees. Now, when I see that in the description that tells me there’s going to be some complexity, some richness, maybe a little creaminess.
And when I hear Napa, I’m intrigued as well. So let’s pour some and see what this is all about.
I always say with sparkling, sometimes you want to stop and listen. You hear those bubbles kind of dancing around in the glass. And if you look, you can see them as well.
As long as that beautiful golden color just immediately makes me happy, makes me think of sunshine, celebrating and being festive. But it’s important to remember that sparkling wine is a wine. It’s not just for celebrations. You can pair it with food. One of my favorite things being in New York, I do maybe too much takeout and delivery.
I love my high, low pairings and I love traditional method wines like this one, but maybe some greasy, crunchy fried food. It is the perfect pairing. Trust me.
So let’s give this a smell. Really aromatic. Exactly what I expect that there’s richness, this ripeness, but it’s alive.
And that’s what you want in a sparkling wine. You want that vitality. You want to sense it even before you taste it. Wow. That is crisp. It’s fresh. But again, that 15 months in the leaves as a bit of creaminess at this price point, this wine, I have to say, will fool some of your really snooty friends who think that that’s not from champagne and it didn’t cost a fortune.
How could it be good? This is better than good. This is really delicious. I say, buy a case of this. You can impress someone as a gift or just to cheer yourself up when you’re having a tough day. So cheers.
Here to help us properly open sparkling wine (Champagne, Prosecco, etc.) is Chris Lafleur, a sommelier based out of Toronto who focuses on selling and training all things wine.
The most challenging thing that sommeliers get nervous about when tableside is opening sparkling wine.
How do we do it?
What’s the right way?
Is it ok if the cork hits the ceiling?
Watch Chris Lafleur as he shares the basics of opening sparkling wine with us.
How to Properly Open Sparkling Wine Video Highlights:
00:28 Opening Sparkling Wine
00:49 The Tools
01:11 How to Hold the Bottle
01:20 Cut the Foil
01:59 Remove Foil to Reveal the Cage
02:15 Holding the Bottle and Cloth
02:29 Open the Cage with 6 Turns
02:45 Release the Cork / Open the Bottle
03:16 Present the Cork
03:29 Pour the First Glass and Top it
03:55 Enjoy the Bubbly
Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome back to the CH Wine tasting room. We have something a little bit different today. So for those of you who know a little bit about me, I’m a sommelier. I’m based out of Toronto, and a lot of the things that I do are focused on selling wine tableside in restaurants. And this also involves me training other people, servers, other sommeliers to do the same thing.
And the most challenging thing, I think that everyone is nervous to do tableside and probably if you’ve ever opened one of these in your home, you know what I mean? It’s opening sparkling wine. Like, how do we do it? What’s the right way? Is it okay if the cork hits the ceiling? Probably not. But I mean, depends on how many breakable things there are in close proximity to you when you do that.
So let me give you the basics on how we do it. First off, we need a corkscrew. We need our cloth. And these are going to be the most important items that we have today that we need our glass. And here’s the thing about glassware. You can pour into almost any kind of glass. Some people like coupe glasses, some people like flutes similar to this.
Some people like just regular wine glasses. For this one, we’re going to stick with traditional flutes because that’s what you’re most of the time going to see. So let’s begin. We take a grasp of the bottle by the neck. We’re very careful. And when we’re serving this to a guest, when we open it, we make sure that the label faces them.
For most of this procedure. Next, we take our corkscrew with a nice sharp knife on it, and we’re going to start to cut below this line. Now, I know if you’re looking at this in the camera, you can see that we do have actually a tag that you can use to pull this off and get it around that way.
You’re welcome to do that. But in a restaurant, because the tags aren’t always completely helpful or they don’t go all the way around instead of getting like one that’s only half pulled, we want to use the corkscrew knife to do it all the way. So like, so we’re going to cut it around underneath the second lip as if we’re trying to cut through the glass itself.
You won’t be able to do it, but it will ensure a nice cut along the foil. Then I make another incision. Incision like we’re doctors, a wine here along the cage, so that I can then use this to pull it up. And off we go. Oh, off we go, Off we go. That happens. That’s okay. Now, goodbye to the foil and goodbye to the knife.
We don’t need either anymore. Next thing we’re going to do is we’re going to take our cloth. We’re going to turn the little handle away. So it’s over here. We’re going to put our cloth with our thumb over the top of the cork. This ensures that once we open the cage, we never lose control of the cork. If you were doing, say, a certified CMS sommelier exam, this is one of the things you’ll be expected to do.
You don’t want to fail because you took your thumb off. Now I’ve opened up the cage with six turns of the cage six every time. Otherwise it’s a weird bottle. And then we flip the cloth back down over it. We use our fingers to loosen the cage a little, and then we start to open the wine. I’m keeping pressure on the top with my thumb and I’m slightly turning the wine back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
I’m not spinning it on the table and spinning it in my hand. I’m keeping pressure and keeping it fairly stable. Now I’m going to get close to opening it up. We’re going to let only a little bit of carbon dioxide out. So you get a little, little puff and a little sigh and that’s it. The wine is now open and I’ll take the bottle.
We’ll take the cork, will present it to the guests like so you can commemorate this for your first anniversary of the time that you defeated Strahd in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. You dungeon Heads know what I’m talking about. And then we’ll pour the first class. We start with just a light touch, and that’ll be the first sip that they can take to confirm the wine is not corked.
And then we top it up once we start getting around the table, we can still take two pause because of course, with effervescent wine, you don’t want it to bubble over the side. So we’re going very carefully and slowly and sometimes separate pause to pause is totally fine. And that’s it. That’s opening sparkling wine. Now show your friends how controlled and well you can do it.
And then on the second bottle, just pop that cork off and let the party begin. And that is how we do it. So I will see you at the next bottle and glass.
Chris Lafleur Sommelier
Chris is a sommelier certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers and has worked on the floors of acclaimed Toronto restaurants, including Blueblood Steakhouse, Cibo Wine Bar, and Michelin Starred Don Alfonso 1890 (named the #1 Best Italian Restaurant in the World, outside of Italy).
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