sparkling wine

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If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that our first or last (okay, sometimes both ways) stop on our way to a Sonoma County getaway is at the beautiful and bubbly Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards. It is simply the best place to celebrate the start of a holiday or to look back on an amazing time as it sadly comes to an end. Trust me, I have cried more than once on their property. . .

This past weekend, while I was on a girls’ trip to Sonoma County, Gloria Ferrer kindly hosted my group for a tasting and so much more, and it was glorious. It’s truly a magical spot, and we sipped on our favorite wines and ate delicious cheese as we took in those views and the end-of-summer summer sun. It’s just a must-visit spot.



It’s not always easy to make it out to California, but if you live in Boston, Minneapolis, or Denver, Gloria Ferrer is coming to you, in the form of their Glorious Bites Challenge.

About the Challenge:

Gloria Ferrer is on a mission to find the most glorious appetizer in the country. With the help of four expert foodies, we’re coming to a city near you in search of an appetizer that pairs perfectly with our Sonoma Brut. So channel your inner-foodie and submit your signature appetizer recipe!

What could be better than spending an evening enjoying food, wine, and friendly competition?

I will of course be at the October 3 Divine Design Center Boston event, and I hope you will get your tickets now and join me for a taste of wine country in Boston. This event promises to be memorable, and really one-of-a-kind.



Thank you again to Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards for hosting us and for the opportunity to attend Glorious Bites in Boston next week!


Take a peek at past visits!

Sipping in Sonoma

Wine Country Bliss

Just Outside San Francisco 

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Tags: Boston, events, Sonoma, sparkling wine, wine

On our recent trip to Asheville, we ran out of time to visit the Biltmore Estate and decided to definitely save it for our next trip. We’d heard from many people that it takes at least a few hours to tour properly, and with the extreme heat we enjoyed, we figured we would also have needed to build in rest breaks.

That didn’t stop me from tasting Biltmore wine, however. (You know me better than that!)

biltmore estate brut sparkling Before we checked into our house rental, we made a stop at the local grocery store to stock up on breakfast items and celebratory drinks. I was so excited to see that they sold Biltmore Estate Brut Sparkling Wine. Did you know that the Biltmore Estate has America’s most visited winery?

biltmore estate brut sparkling

With the Estate being involved in so many things, I wasn’t sure what to expect of the wine. This sparkling wine was made in the traditional Champagne method, and as such had those yeasty, bread-y notes that I love in Champagne, along with notes of honey, vanilla, and citrus. Lots of tiny bubbles and a celebratory spirit made this wine one that will most definitely stand out in my Asheville memories and makes me want to do a full tasting experience at Biltmore. The tasting notes say it pairs well with seafood, but as a brunch drink, we paired it with salty bacon and eggs. Bacon and bubbly has become my favorite pairing as of late, and I look forward to the weekend for an excuse to enjoy the two.

The Biltmore Estate also has a marathon on property that I may or may not have considered over the past couple of years. . . We’ll wait until after Chicago to see about that!

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Tags: Asheville, bubbly, sparkling wine, Travel, wine, wine of the week

Several weeks ago I was invited to a media lunch at L’Espalier  to taste the Champagne of Champagne Bruno Paillard with Alice Paillard, daughter of the founder, winemaker, and visionary behind  Maison Bruno Paillard. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I love Champagne and that a visit to the region is at the top of my list. Attending this Champagne lunch was quite the treat, and one afternoon I won’t soon forget.

It started out with some relaxing chatting in the Salon at L’Espalier which is my new favorite spot for business meetings. It’s simply lovely and perfectly put together; the carefully chosen decor at L’Espalier was a common theme in our conversation throughout lunch.

When it was time for our lunch, we were seated by a window looking up Boylston Street, an iconic Boston view from an iconic Boston restaurant. Perfection.


Alice Paillard has been working with her father at Champagne Bruno Paillard since 2007. In her time she has worked in the vineyards and cellar, developed the exporting side of the business, and now co-manages the Maison with her father. Her knowledge and passion for the Champagne was so exciting to see firsthand, and to top it off, she was absolutely lovely.

Our discussion of the color scheme and art at L’Espalier turned into one of Champagne as our first taste, Champagne Brut Premiere Cuvee, the flagship wine of the house, was poured. Alice explained that, much like a beautiful room, Champagne is the result of a series of decisions, starting with the villages and vineyards, deciding how long the Champagne should remain on the lees, how long to cellar, all of the things that give it its final character and personality. Champagne Bruno Paillard is among the newer houses, and as a result, they don’t always have to do things the way “things are always done”.

Champagne Bruno Paillard

Quality is key, dosage is kept very low to create a brut Champagne, and the disgorgement date is on every bottle. Disgorgement disturbs the wine, and the inclusion of the date on the bottle allows the recipient to know how long it has had to rest and recover since disgorgement. Alice likened it to the human body recovering after surgery; in every instance, the wine is alive and reacts to all that happens to it. The attention to detail, right down to chilling this bottle on only a few ice cubes, reawakened my love and respect for all that goes into wine.

Deciding on which menu items from L’Espalier’s enticing and elegant lunch menu to pair with the Champagne was a fun discussion as again it became important to weigh decisions on what would go together best. Our small group was open to sharing plates (always the best way to eat, in my opinion), and so our courses were ordered and Champagne was poured and enjoyed, both with the food and on its own.

lunch at L'Espalier

{House smoked salmon with pickled vegetables, crème fraîche and American caviar*}

lobster bisque

{L’Espalier’s “signature” Maine lobster bisque with garlic flan}


Champagne Bruno Paillard Blanc de Blancs Reserve Privee

{Champagne Blanc de Blancs Réserve Privée}

Nova Scotia halibut

{Nova Scotia halibut with Maitre Gaspard, Delta asparagus, potatoes and fermented mustard seed}


{Wild mushroom risotto with Maine lobster, a New England farm coddled egg and brown butter emulsion}

Champagne Assemblage 2008

{Champagne Assemblage 2008}

IMG_5233{Roasted prime beef sirloin: “another soupe a l’oignon”, fingerling potatoes, king trumpet mushrooms and anchovy purée}


{Champagne N.P.U. – “”Nec Plus Ultra”" 2003 “}

Champagne lunch

{Pairing Champagne with a slightly salty, umami beef dish , one of the more surprising pairings of the day, but one that actually worked deliciously. And look at the color in that glass!}}

L'Espalier cheese plate

{L’Espalier’s famous cheese plate paired with Champagne Rosé Première Cuvée}

Alice showed us where Champagne Bruno Paillard grapes come from; carefully chosen vineyards and grapes cultivated by the same families for more than 30 years. Again, the choice of location and that location’s terroir being important decisions in the beautiful Champagne that makes its way into your glass, if you are lucky!


Champagne Tasting Notes

We tasted the following wines at the lunch.

Champagne Extra Brut Première Cuvée
Champagne Rosé Première Cuvée
Champagne Blanc de Blancs Réserve Privée Grand Cru
Champagne Assemblage 2008
Champagne N.P.U. – “”Nec Plus Ultra”" 2003 “

My own scribbled tasting notes don’t do these beautiful wines the same justice that the notes on the website do. I was enthralled by not only the technical savvy behind the wines, but more importantly the love, pride, and passion that Alice exuded. I encourage you to explore and discover the Champagnes of Bruno Paillard at your own pace. The website is beautiful and so full of information on the house, the Champagne making process, and so much more.

If you are in the Boston area, you can find Champagne from Bruno Paillard at several retail outlets, including the following:


Urban Grape

Inman Square Wines

Kappy’s Peabody

Cellar d’Or

Lower Falls Wine

Table & Vine

This lunch was provided to me at no charge as a media guest. All opinions are my own. 

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Tags: Boston, Boston blogger, bubbly, champagne, events, sparkling wine, wine

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