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Enjoying Wine and Beer in the Augusta GA area

Albrecht Brut Rosé Perfect For All Your Holiday Meals

Lucien Albrecht Brut Rosé NV, Alsace

Cost: $22-24

Even with the recent cool weather we have experienced, this is still an ideal time to drink rosé wines. I love rosé all year long, and when you add bubbles to the mix, you have hit the jackpot.

Lucien Albrecht Brut Rosé NV ($22-24) is a great example of how good these wines can be. It hits several of my hot buttons: sparkling, rosé and it’s from Alsace.

There is great sparkling wine produced around the world, but some of the best bargains are the Cremants d’Alsace. By law the only sparkling wines that can be called Champagne are those produced in the Champagne region of France. They are fantastic, but sometimes you have to find something a little more budget-friendly.

A Cremant simply is a sparkling wine made in regions of France other than Champagne. You can have a Cremant d’Bourgogne, a Cremant de Loire, or a Cremant de Limoux, for instance. All are good, but I have a soft spot in my heart and my taste buds for Cremant d’Alsace.

It goes back to my first trip to Europe in 1984 when this group I was traveling with found a spectacular Cremant d’Alsace priced at three bottles for the equivalent of $5. It was a group of wine lovers who toured Germany and France by boat and bus. We drank a lot of the Cremant as we careened on our bus through France. I found the same wine when we got back home, priced a little higher, but still great.

So whenever I come across a wine from Alsace (I also love their white wines), I have high expectations. The Lucien Albrecht did not disappoint.

It is refreshing and fun, perfect for a warm fall day, but also great with holiday meals. This is a wine you could enjoy with Thanksgiving turkey, or rich Christmas meals, or to celebrate New Year’s Eve. It is a beautiful pale pink salmon in the glass with lots of bubbles.

It features strawberry and cherry aromas with crisp strawberry flavors, touched with some minerality. (Mineral notes are common in Alsatian wines.) It is rich and balanced, with a dry, crisp acidity and a creamy texture.

The wine is 100 percent pinot noir and comes in at 12.5 percent alcohol.

The winery begins harvest in mid-August, a little earlier than most varieties in the region, so winemaker Jérôme Keller can preserve the crisp acidity and bright freshness.

Whole clusters are hand-picked, placed in small baskets and softly pressed, and the wine is made from free-run juice. This is followed by natural clarification through sedimentation. It then goes through 6-8 weeks of controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Then it is laid on racks for at least 12 months.

The brut and brut rosé are made using the same methods as in Champagne, “méthode traditionnelle.” That means the bubbles come from a second fermentation in the bottle.

Pinot noir is the only red grape variety grown in Alsace and Albrecht grows its grapes in the rich and renowned terroirs of the Orschwihr vineyard. The grapes are on a sloping vineyard and get sun all summer. Because Alace is in northeast France, the grapes ripen slowly and flavors develop fully.

Crémant d’Alsace Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée was created in 1976 to distinguish the wines obtained by the sparkling champagne method. It was the recognition of the efforts made by several Alsatian winemakers, including the Maison Lucien Albrecht.

Albrecht recommends serving this wine at 44-46 degrees. So after you take it out of the refrigerator, let it warm up for 10 minutes or so. You could cellar this wine for up to three years without losing any freshness.

Winery: Maison Lucien Albrecht is a historic winery, tracing its founding to 1425. In 1698, Balthazar Albrecht left Thann to settle in Orschwihr, south of Colmar, several decades after the end of the Thirty Years’ War which laid waste to much of Alsace. He worked the land and tirelessly cultivated the vines.

The winery has been handed down from father to son for generations, and each generation adapted is methods gradually from year to year. It remains family owned and managed today.

The company began its first tests of sparkling wines in 1971. And, thanks to the perseverance of Lucien Albrecht and other producers, this traditional method was officially recognized and awarded the prestigious AOC Crémant d’Alsace designation of origin in 1976.

In their vineyards the family emphasizes a harmony with nature and, in their cellars minimal intervention in order to produce in each vintage hand-crafted wines that represent the terroir and family heritage. They practice a policy of minimal intervention from the vine to the glass, emphasizing sustainability.

Albrecht also produces pinot noir, riesling, pinot gris, gewurztraminer and a late harvest gewurztraminer. It also produces a brut to go with the brut rosé.

Goes with: We had this delightful wine with carryout Chinese food. I used to struggle with pairing wine with Chinese food, because the spices and the sweet sauces make it difficult to find the right pairing. Usually I would settle for beer.

But a good sparkling wine, or a wine that is a little sweet is perfect for Chinese food. I usually get Kung Po chicken, vegetable fried rice and an egg roll from China, our favorite carryout place for many years. If I really want to live it up I’ll get fried dumplings or fried chicken wings. It all pairs well with the Cremant d’Alsace.

The Lucien Albrecht was particularly good with this meal because the fruitiness of the wine matches some of the sauces in the food. And the bubbles cut through everything, making the food taste better. I think the wine was so good, we finished it before we finished out meal.

This fun wine would be great with all your holiday celebrations and with all kinds of meals, from fried food to elegant meals, from charcuterie to cream sauces. It even would go well with a salad. I also recommend it for sitting on the porch, watching the sun go down on these cool, crisp fall evenings.

If you have questions about wine you can email Dennis Sodomka at dennis@bottlereport.com

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