With a newly minted one year-old daughter, my wife and I will not make it to midnight on New Year’s Eve. We find the next best fudge: sparkling wine Wednesday dinner at foodie stalwart Paley’s Place in Portland, Oregon.
Paley’s lines up six sparkling wines from the world over, along with one blind bubbly. We start them with the mixed vegetable platter: a divine mishmash of winter roots, horseradish sauce, Russian kale and barley salad, spicy cabbage, buckwheat black radish crepes, and on.
Sparkling highs include Langlois‘ prim and silky Cabernet Franc Loire Valley Brut rosé (very good 4 of 5 $19), Pere Ventura‘s taut, zippy, chalky Tresor, Brut, Cava (very good 4 of 5 $14), and Dr Loosen‘s peachy, apple, lime-zested sparkling Riesling (very good 4 of 5 $14). The fizzes are eclectic, at times funky, but good value.
Then the blind bubbly rears its head. Get it right. Get the flight for free.
The glass stares at us. Its Appearance looks a clear, mild, salmon pink with brass highlights and a near silent trickle of fine fizz. Aromas smell moderately of ethanol, red apple, honey, and dried strawberry that carry into Flavors. Most telling is the Palate: dryish and kinda flat: with a pithy medium acidity, noted alcohol, a medium light body, and tired fizz.
All of this points to a warm-ish climate with old world tendencies, an age past its peak, and low cost. No focussed character so it is non vintage. It lacks the fruit and alcohol of New World bubblies. No autolytics: so not Champagne nor anything with much lees time. Medium acidity: so not a Burgundy bubbly. It lacks the cut of Cava, so no Spain.
Crap. This is hard.
My wife hits on Portugal: good call, warmish climate, Euro profile but a bit odd, value. Its flatness meanders me to charmat/tank/prosecco method and considering an Italian Glera with a dash of a red grape like Pinot Nero. My second guess is a cheap Crémant de Bordeaux, cabernet/merlot blend with a bit of age.
A Cremant d’Alsace, Pinot Noir non-vintage Brut by Dopff & Irion ($19). Ah well. A fresher bottle would probably be delish worth buying.
Luckily, we order a bottle of Champagne to wallow over our loss. Dryness, edged and angled crisp chalk, green apple, lemon squeeze, smoke, brioche and mineral make for a food thirsty bubbly by Moutard, Grande Cuvée Brut, Buxeuil, Champagne, NV ($32.00) (4 of 5 very good).
And then the entrées: salmon, kale mushroom gratin, truffle, potato magic.
My wife feigns ennui at her salmon, smoked lobster cream pasta.
Parting gifts of ice-cream and mini cocoa cookies wrap up the meal.
We may not make it to New Year’s Eve, but eight sparkling wines make for a fabulous dinner. Thank you Paley’s Place.