Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Larry Mawby's Sparkling Wines

Larry Mawby was my prime source for dry Vignoles in the early-1980s; his 1982 and 1983 were excellent. Today, Mawby doesn't make still wines but uses Vignoles in many of his Bruts. The Cremant Classic is 100% Vignoles. I tasted a flight of four Mawby Bruts on the deck of his tasting room last weekend. Last year, I preferred his Blanc de Blancs; this year, my favorites were the Talismon and the Blanc de Noirs.

The Blanc de Blancs ($18), mostly Chardonnay, is crisp and lively with a long finish. Its sibling the Blanc de Noirs ($18), 100% Pinot Noir, is made in a similar way--hand picked, whole cluster pressed, fermentation in stainless steel, then blended with reserved juice and fermented a second time in the bottle. It's fuller than the Blanc de Blancs on the mid-palate with Pinot earthiness on the finish. I generally prefer Blanc de Noirs and did again this time.

Because it's 100% estate-grown Vignoles, the Cremant Classic ($24) had my full attention. Compared to the Talismon, the nose was a bit tight at first, then opened nicely. I liked the finely focused Vignoles fruit flavors. Medium bodied and well balanced. The juice for the Cremant is fermented in small oak barrels (as opposed to stainless steel for the Blanc de Blancs and Blanc de Noirs), and that adds another dimension.

Talismon (at $33 the most expensive wine in the lineup) is billed as a "unique aged blend," and I agree. A blend of Vignoles, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, it's fermented in a solera system in small oak barrels. Older vintages are topped up with newer ones. Incredibly complex aromas of spicy fruit and bread dough. Flavors are even fuller and more Pinot-tinged than the Blanc de Noirs. Very fine. If I see this wine for under $30, I'll be a buyer.

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