#TasteWithKaren Live

Announcing this exciting live virtual tasting:

The Cava Renaissance

Friday, September 24, 2021 at 4pm PT/7pm ET

Join Karen as she explores the Cavas of northern Spain, and tastes four delicious Cavas with some of the wine industry’s biggest influencers.

Register HERE.

MOLÍ PARELLADA “Clos La Soleya” Brut Nature

ANNA DE CODORNÍU Blanc de Blancs Reserva

Purchase wines above HERE.


MARIA RIGOL ORDI Reserva Brut Nature
Purchase this wine HERE.


Syrah 2018

(North Coast, CA) $39

Here’s one of California’s top Syrahs, with aromas and flavors that whirl out of the glass with explosive power—cedar, vanilla, white pepper, licorice, eucalyptus, blackberries, sea salt, charcuterie, and cherries. Just thinking about this wine puts me right in the mood for something like lamb chops or roast duck with black cherry sauce. It’s also extremely lively with an underlying hum of acidity that gives wine lift and freshness. Jolie-Laide is a two-person operation founded by Scott Schultz and Jenny Schultz. Scott previously worked as the cellar master of Realm Winery, followed by Arnot-Roberts, and Pax Mahle. The name Jolie-Laide translates loosely to Pretty-Ugly, a French term of endearment to describe something that is unconventionally beautiful. (12.5% abv)


95 points KM

Available at Flatiron Wines and Spirits

The WineSpeed Blog

A. Laying bottles down so that they can age sur lie

B. Turning and upending bottles so that the yeast collects in the neck of the bottle

C. Freezing the neck of the bottle and then expelling the yeast out of it

D. Adding a solution of yeast and sugar in wine to incite a second fermentation


Toward the end of its long resting period sur lie, a bottle of Champagne must be rotated to loosen the expired yeasts that have accumulated during the second fermentation. Known as remuage in French or “riddling” in English, this process involves the gradual tilting of the bottle neck-down, meanwhile rotating it in small increments to collect the yeast sediment in the neck of the bottle. Remuage is still sometimes done manually, using a shaking and twisting technique practiced over centuries by skilled cellar masters. A good remueur (bottle turner) can riddle roughly 40,000 bottles a day. Done manually, remuage takes four to six weeks. Automated remuage is now much more common using a machine called a gyropalette that can riddle 500 bottles at once. When remuage is finished, the bottles are neck-down (sur pointe) and ready to be disgorged.

Answer: False.

All Champagne must spend at least 15 months in the bottle before release. Of this, 12 months must be sur lie, (on the lees). The minimum aging periods required by law for Champagne wines are much longer than for other sparkling wines. European wine regulations, for example, specify a minimum of only 90 days for effervescent wines in general.

Prise de mousse

A French term meaning “formation of bubbles.” In Champagne, the term is sometimes used to describe the second fermentation.

The Incredible Crayères


In order to have enough stone to construct the city of Reims in what was then Gaul, in the fourth century, the Romans dug three hundred immensely deep quarries in the chalky rock. These same vertical chalk pits, called crayères, are used today by the Champagne houses to age Champagne. They are miracles of construction that seem to defy physics, and descending into their eerily quiet, cold, dark, humid chambers is an otherworldly experience that no wine drinker should miss. Because the best chalk was often well underground, many crayères go down as far as 120 feet (37 meters). They are shaped like pyramids, so the deepest parts of the crayères are also the widest, and the tops of the pits are narrow (this limited air exposure in the quarry and kept the chalk moist and soft, and thus easier to cut into large construction blocks). During World War I, when Reims was extensively bombed, twenty thousand people lived for years in the dark crayères (no sunlight penetrates). Indeed, the crayères under Veuve Clicquot and Ruinart were makeshift hospitals, and under Pommery was a school.


Number of millions of bottles of Champagne exported to the U.S. in 2020. The U.S. currently holds the # 2 spot among Champagne’s top export destinations. The United Kingdom leads with 21.3 million bottles imported last year. Japan ranks third with 10.8 million bottles.


Maximum percentage of sugar allowed in Champagnes labeled Brut Nature. Less than 3 grams of sugar per liter (equal to 0.3%) is allowed by law. But often a Brut Nature’s dosage is dosage zero — no sugar at all is added.  This style is the driest and most austere of all Champagnes.

16.2 k

Number of growers in Champagne. Small growers collectively own 90% of all the vineyards in Champagne. Some produce their own wine, while others supply the largest Champagne houses. The average vineyard area a grower owns is 5.2 acres (2.1 hectares). There are only 360 Champagne houses in the entire region.

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