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Gloria Ferrer Royal Cuvée Vintage 2001, bubbles up success

With the Thanksgiving holiday firmly in our collective calendars rear view mirror it's seriously time to start thinking about your"sparkling wine" choices for ringing in the new year. So I thought that todays review should center around another wonderful choice in bubbly. A sparkling wine that has become one of my all time favorites, year after year. It's from right here in California, just a bit [some 800 miles] north of where I live in Sonoma County to be precise. I had a great time visiting this past September, unlike many other vintners GF had already started picking and I took a spin around the property which is expansive to take in the sights and sounds of harvest while I reclined on the patio sipping some of fantastic sparkling wine and enjoyed the view.
This is a great Sparkling wine for your next holiday celebration or anytime. It has tremendous taste and is easy on the wallet. Since my journey into the world of vino a short six years ago, I have come to the conclusion that"Cuvées" [aka, blends] often are the dominate choice for many wine aficionados and just everyday folks [think Bordeaux]. This example is nothing different, I want to introduce to the Gloria Ferrer's Royal Cuvée Vintage 2001 which is a blend of different lots from the same wonderful harvest season and not lots from different years.

Sniffy, Swirly-Swirl and Slurp: In the flute you will the Royal Cuvee's Pinot Noir led blend has a slight champagne rose color leaning toward the orange/pink side. On the nose dried cherries, over a fresh baked brioche. After taking my first sip, fat ample bubbles and creamy mousse composed of strawberries, smeared on fresh baked buttermilk biscuits, leading to a long sumptuous finish. I've had this wine several time and I've never been disappointed.

What's the Score: I gave this wine 94 points on the CCWB 100 point scale and maximum points awarded for a great price point and availability.

Versatility: Sparkling wine or Champagne is probably the most versatile drink for pairing you're are going to find and at these prices, this is an indulgence you could easily afford to keep on hand, chilling out in the fridge. People ask me all the time, if you had to choose only one wine that would pair with a majority of everyday food choices what would it be, the one word answer would be bubbly every time. Sparkling wines also pair wonderfully with many first courses or appetizers of many shapes and sizes, including salads, which contributes to its popularity of this very versatile wine. Many sparkling wines bubbles, when contrasted with actual Champagne are less focused and feel fatter on the on the palate as opposed to champagne and is often so vibrant that it's pretty fantastic on its own.

Any Time: Forget special occasions, most anytime is suitable for a sparkling wine from California, Champagne from France, Cava from Spain or a Sekt from Germany, you need to think of bubbly as a product you can drink at any moment of the day and pairs so easily with many different types of food. While I'm not about to advocate for all-day quaffing or having a mug of it with your lunch, however I will say this lively wine has soared so much in popularity that it has become a "everyday" wine no longer reserved just for special occasions and has also found its way to the bar.

Belly up to the Bar: Bubbly is no longer for simple cork popping and quaffing no this is a wine that has made its way to the bar. Many a mixologist [bartenders] can vouch for the allure of this wonderful bar-staple. Many drinks today can and are being made with sparkling wine and fresh white-peach nectar or mixed with any other manner of fruit juices, from orange to pomegranate, generally proves eminently quaffable and a real party pleaser, which may catch your guests off guard. If you plan to make bubbly a part of your liquor line-up may I recommend for mixing their everyday Sonoma Brut or the Blanc de Blanc Brut.

Directions for Sexy Sparkle: Pour 1 ounce orange-flavored vodka and 1 ounce ginger liquor, such as Domaine de Canton or DeKuyper Ginger Flavored Brandy, into a champagne flute. Fill remainder of glass with champagne and enjoy.

Consistent: I've found that Gloria Ferrer Sparkling Wines are a fantastic consistent product. They also make a nice, pleasant aperitif or a wonderful party mixer in the right situation. The enticing simplicity and refreshing character of good, clean sparkling wines made in right here in California are hard to be denied. 

Where to Purchase: I purchased this sparkler for a mere $20.00 at Costco [normally sells for $32.99]. A vintage bubbly of this caliber at that price point makes this wine a QPR champ. It is three times the juice of many other bubblies here in the states and beats the stuffing out of many of the sparkling wines from across the pond as well. I know it is probably not a completely fair comparison because this is vintage bubbly, but if you compared a vintage French Champagne vs. a domestic vintage bubbly, whoa you really get a lot bang for the buck by going with this fresh New World bubbly.

Vintage Bubbly: If you are new to wine you maybe surprised to find that most Champagne or Sparkling wines are blends of different years, [NV] unlike still-wines which are generally made from a vintage year. So in the world of Sparkling Wine, winemakers will sometimes set aside a fantastic year called a "vintage" year. [Vintage means it is from a specific year, so if you don't see the year printed on the label (which makes up the bulk of sparklers and or Champagnes] then it is a blend of different years.

Other Voices: I find it a great practice to have others from the dying print media chime in on the great values in vino I find and so here again I've found two other sources who not only confirm my findings, but add the exclamation point.

So the folks over at WS had this say about about the GS NV Blanc de Blanc "This sparkling wine is fresh and vibrant, yet offers a core of rich, luscious fruit. Aromas of Asian pear, rose water and lemon curd lead to layered flavors of fresh ginger, pippin apple and cinnamon that finish on a showy note. Drink now through 2013." 93 points Wine Spectator

In 2008 WE listed the Royal Cuvee in Top 100 Wines of the Year, high praise indeed. Their reviewers went on to say that the "Royal Cuvée is usually Gloria Ferrer’s best bubbly, and so it is with this bottling, a worthy follow up to the past several vintages" and described it this way, "Very finely structured, it shows appealing flavors of cherries, citrus fruits and vanilla, and is so rich, it’s almost like a table wine. Addictively good now and more so in years to come." 93 points Wine Enthusiast

The Winery: Sitting like a lovely jewel in the hills of Sonoma, the GF winery cultivates 385 acres in Carneros and produces a wide range of sparkling and still wines. Gloria Ferrer is dedicated to the production of wines which reflect the artistry [well we would hope so]of the winemaker and the marriage of vine to place in the vineyard [not just PR hype either]. While they do make some still wines from their fruit in Sonoma, they also import some Spanish still wines and sell them through the winery tasting room. But their sparkling wines will always remain the first love of the Ferrer family who also happens to own the Spanish sparkling wine giant Freixenet [cava] in what has become the iconic black matte colored bottle.

My Recommendation: This is a great holiday quaffer to have by the case for your next holiday party or New Years celebration. It is inexpensive, but has premium quality. So run down and grab yourself as many as you can afford and have a great holiday season and until next time sip long and prosper cheers!


Gayle said…
So glad you posted a review of Gloria Ferrer's sparkling wine. I'm a huge Gloria fan. When you can get "everyday" sparkling wine this good for $13 (the nonvintage brut and brut rose when on sale at Vons), why drink it only on special occasions? I once drank it with a takeout pizza! Looking forward to trying the Vintage and the price at Costco is such a deal.
Bill Eyer said…
Hey Gayle, absolutely right on point, these wines give so much on the palate but are light on the pocket book!

Have a Wine-Tastic Holiday Season!

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