The Contemporary Method
Something new is up on the Old Farm. La Vieille Ferme is a Southern Rhône winery that has been popular with French wine lovers for more than four decades. It is operated by Famille Perrin, owners of the high end Chateau de Beaucastel. The Perrins also have played an important role in popularizing Rhône grape varieties in the US as partners in the founding of Tablas Creek winery in Paso Robles.
For five years winemakers at La Vieille Ferme have been working on introducing a line of sparkling wine. The result is La Vieille Ferme Sparkling Réserve Brut and the La Vieille Ferme Sparkling Réserve Rosé. Each retails for $16.99, a scrumptious value for French sparkling wine.
Rather than the traditional method used for Champagne and Cava, which has a second fermentation in the bottle, this duo of sparklers is created in a new way. The new process, called “Méthode Contemporaine” by Famille Perrin, involves introducing CO₂ into the wine just before bottling. The CO₂ is recovered during fermentation and then stored. It is reincorporated before bottling using a membrane contact system.
Phew. That’s a lot of science to contemplate. Luckily we found no difficulty in enjoying these two loveable wines.
We served the wines on two different completely different occasions. One was a wine dinner and the other a dinner with wine. (You are now getting a sense of how we roll.)
At our wine dinner, the Réserve Rosé was served as an arrival wine with a variety of appetizers including the Green Dragon’s famous tomato bacon crisps. It is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Pinot Noir – a very representative Southern Rhône trio of grapes.
I wasn’t sure how the Contemporary Method would stack up in the bubbles department. Upon uncorking and pouring, we were delighted with the froth and fine bubbles. The wine has fresh flavors of red raspberries with a touch of citrus. Grapes are planted in limestone soils which result in energetic acidity.
Bubbly always creates a festive mood. This was served on a warm day and also delivered a wave of refreshment to our guests who had driven more than an hour to the party.
The Réserve Brut was popped during a dinner with my brother and sister-in-law who were traveling from upstate New York to a music festival in Florida. Green Dragon outdid herself with a meal of swordfish steak with mango chile glaze, garlic shrimp and cilantro rice.
Froth on the Réserve Brut was creamy beyond expectation. The wine is 100% Chardonnay, something I’ve come to appreciate in a sparkler. The wine is rested on the lees with regular battonage (stirring) that adds a nuttiness and round flavor. Vibrant flavors of lemon and grapefruit made this an exceptional match with the swordfish.
We wish the Réserve Brut came in a larger format bottle! It was gone too quickly.
Elegant or casual, big occasions or small, the new sparkling wines from La Vieille Ferme are good choices. The value is quite remarkable for quality French sparkling wine. Food friendly, they can stand alone or be paired with a wide range of appetizers or entrees.
Grab a bottle or two of La Vieille Ferme. Get ready, set, pop your corks!
Full disclosure: We received this wine as a marketing sample.