Thursday, August 3, 2017

Luc Belaire Rare Luxe Sparkling, France

When celebrating, nothing comes close to sparkling wine. And the best – some would say – come from France. Here’s the first sparkler we opened in our new house.

A Luxurious Bottle

In Ohio, before we pulled up stakes and moved, one of the last bottles of wine I bought was this non-vintage French sparkling wine, Luc Belaire Rare Luxe. I purchased it at The Andersons, a wonderful local chain of stores that featured not only groceries, but also power tools, hardware and lumber. The stores also featured perhaps the best wine departments in the Toledo area.

I skated in pretty close to the edge of the store’s demise. Shelves that formerly were bursting with gourmet cheese, ethnic foods, and completely unnecessary products that I’d like to buy, were now sadly empty. The wine department, which seemed to encompass about half an acre, dwindled down to a few shelves and most of the primo bottles had already been plucked.

The Belaire Luxe was saved from oblivion as I happily purchased it for much less than the $30 to $40 for which it usually sells.

Way Down South In The Land Of Sparkling Wine

My wine cellar took a curious journey to our new home – and it still isn’t complete. Most of our household goods were packed into a giant moving van for our migration. I’m sure the temperature was a constant 90 to 110 degrees inside the truck – not ideal conditions for preserving the quality of wine.

We made a couple of trips to North Carolina before the big move. Each time we transported wine cooled with chiller packs and dropped a case or three at my mother-in-law’s place. She might have a hard time explaining to her church friends what she was doing with 100+ bottles of wine in her spare bedroom! Nevertheless, it was a vital step in getting the wine to its new home.

Unlike our old home, which actually had a basement that was perfect for a wine cellar, our new digs is all on one-level. So, my next task is to get a quality wine fridge with a 150 or so bottle capacity.

The Belaire was in the small stash of wine I transported down when we left Ohio for points south. If you’ve done it recently, you know what a hassle moving can be. Ours was made even more challenging because we had been in the same house for 22 years – things tend to accumulate!

Popping The Cork

Amidst bubble wrap, a mountain of cardboard boxes and clutter as far as the eye could see – we had finally done it. We were in our new home with all our stuff.

This called for a celebratory glass. Nothing boosts the spirit like the resonant popping sound of the cork coming out of a nice bottle of bubbly.

Belaire Luxe is 100% Chardonnay, which was a surprise. This is a non-vintage wine, a common practice with Champagne and other French sparkling wines. A special blend is created by mixing wine from different years to achieve the trademark flavor for which the winery is known.

The grapes are from Burgundy with the addition of oak-aged dosage from Chablis. Dosage is the wine and sugar added after the second fermentation in the bottle that achieves the desired sweetness level.

This is a brut wine – but in the world of sparkling wine, brut (which means dry) is only the third driest type of wine. The Luxe has a refreshing sweetness – a tad more than we expected. The effervescence was steady, but the stream of bubbles quickly petered out. It has notes of lime flavors and minerality to give it the “luxe” flavor.

I’d rank this as a “middling” sparkling wine that’s packaged in a very appealing ceramic bottle with gold foil. Since we were sipping it on a very special occasion, however, nothing could taste better!

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