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The truth about sparkling wines

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Bubbly, bubbles, sparkling wine …

There are so many different types of them and so many ways and occasions to enjoy them. Although the holidays are over, another celebration is right around the corner and another perfect excuse to uncork some bubbles: Valentine’s Day.

Let’s start with what is arguably the most well-known name in the world of sparkling wines: Champagne.

Often eponymously mislabeled, a wine can only truly be Champagne if it originates from the Champagne wine region of France, located about 100 miles east of Paris.

Champagne is produced using only the grape varieties and the accepted traditional methods according to strict rules of the appellation, including secondary fermentation in the bottle.

This is not to say there aren’t any other sparkling wines worth drinking. From Prosecco to Cava and Crémant, to name a few, there are bubblies for every palate and every wallet.

But here’s a Champagne that’s worth a taste: JM Sélèque Solessence “7 Villages.”

Jean-Marc Sélèque is a vanguard in the shift toward more artisanal farming and production in Champagne.

“7 Villages” is the flagship wine for this domaine, sourcing from Jean-Marc’s vines in … you guessed it, seven villages across the Vallée de la Marne and one in the Côte de Blancs.

Four of the vineyards are fully biodynamic and the others are organic, all focusing on older vines (35 to 40 years) and low yields (55 to 70 hl/ha vs. the 85hl/ha average for the area).

It’s 50% chardonnay, 40% pinot meunier and 10% pinot noir. Half the blend is reserve wine; aged on lees for 20 months. Lees, by the way, are dead yeast cells and other particles in the wine after fermentation. Once settled, they form the sediment at the bottom of a fermenting container.

This wine is terrifically elegant with super-fine mousse, elevated fruit and has a stony salinity.

Low dosage (only 3 g/L) gives it energy and briskness. Want to know more? Hit me up on www.facebook.com/olivier.thewineguy.

Olivier is a wine broker and freelance writer. A native of France with roots deep in the famed wine-producing region of Burgundy, he is known as “Olivier The Wine Guy” and was featured on a weekly radio segment for 20 years. He’s volunteered as a guest wine auctioneer for charity events and also as a judge for the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Wine Competition. He has lectured to live and online audiences, the San Antonio Museum Association, NPR, the San Antonio Regional Wine Guild, the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association and for Villa Finale Museum’s “Power of a Legacy” Series.

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