15 April 2005

Domaine Ste. Michelle Blanc de Noirs

On a lark, I picked up a bottle of Domaine Ste. Michelle Blanc de Noirs (non-vintage, $10). Made in Washington state, it follows the traditional Méthode Champenoise for making sparkling wine. It's mostly pinot noir, with some chardonnay as well, which leads me into something...

The scene at the beginning of Sideways when you see a bottle of Champagne poured and it's a clear gold color? And it's all pinot noir? A friend asked me about this before I saw the movie, and I was confused. My previous limited experience with blanc de noirs wines was that they were fairly pink, almost like white zinfandel. But those were cheap wines and I was wrong, and more research on the Champagne region has helped tremendously. (Though you won't really see one of these wines labeled as pinot noir, and it may not even list the grape on the back.)

This wine is just barely pink, somewhere between light gold and salmon. In fact, in a flute you're not going to see a lot of the tint. The marketing materials will show this as a much pinker wine, but it's not like that in person.

It's a medium dry wine, with mild yeasty aromas and an amazing flavor of very ripe, small strawberries. So crisp it almost makes you want to pucker. Fortunately there's a short aftertaste, so it won't hamper your palate before a heartier meal.

I was going to serve this with some sort of fish tonight, but as dinner plans became confused, I decided to pop it open and have a glass or two in the afternoon. I think this would be a great wine to serve with sushi. Also, at the price, it would probably work well for a large wedding or New Year's Eve gathering if you weren't surrounded by wine fanatics.