California’s first Methode Champenoise Barbera! This was a vision of Steven Mirassou, Nancy Castro, and Steven’s two daughters, Katherine and Sara. The four of them sampled three bottles of an Italian version and decided to make this to drink for all occasions. Steven is the owner and winemaker of Steven Kent Winery, Lineage, Ragbag and Mia Nipote wines. Steven envisioned making a “modern version of a traditional style sparkling wine”.
Thanks goes to Barry Jackson of Equinox who helped bring the bubbles (secondary fermentation) and the Lineage Collection for getting this to production. The grapes come from the Home Ranch vineyard on property in Livermore.
So to help give a perspective on sugar levels for Champagne here are the basic categories, going from sweet to dry based on dosage of sugar added:
• Doux: 50 or more grams of sugar added per liter. Outrageously sweet.
• Demi-Sec: 32 to 50 grams of sugar. Still sweet but showing some traction in the market.
• Sec: “Sec” in French means dry. But dry here indicates a medium sweet sparking of 17 to 32 grams of sugar per liter.
• Extra Sec: Meaning “Extra Dry” which is less sweet than Sec wine with 12 to 17 grams of sugar per liter.
• Brut: Up to 12 grams of sugar added. This leads to a balance of flavor and acidity. A bit more rounded than Extra Brut. This is one of the more popular levels of Champagne for consumers.
• Extra Brut: With fewer than 6 grams of sugar, this will produce higher acid and accentuate the carbonation.
• Brut Nature: With no sugar added (less than 3 grams), not common but a way for the winemaker to allow the quintessential nature of the Sparkling wine. This will provide strong minerality and high acidity.
This Sparkling Barbera is unique, not only for its bubbles but for the low alcohol and extremely low residual sugar level. Picked at 20 bricks and having a sugar dosage of only .175, this is an extremely dry, crisp and bright wine with a cutting acidity. This high acidic wine is a perfect complement to seafood (Salmon, Halibut) and fatty salami’s. As an aperitif, caviar, fruits and hard cheese’s come to mind.
The color on the eyes is unique and draws attention to its copper/golden hue. The bladder press used in making this wine, allowed a soft extracting and no additional skin contact. The color is a function of the whole cluster (no de-stemming) and the yeast taking some of the color out of wine.
On the nose, minerality and soft earth aromas are present with faint flora characteristics. On the palate, the acidity is extremely strong, especially at colder temperatures and hard to discern the fruit. Once it has warmed up a bit, trace amounts of red fruits like cherry, raspberry and dried strawberries can be found. Floral notes of violet, vanilla and nutmeg arise. The finish is lip puckering dry. As we tasted the wine, we notice the dried apricots went especially well with it. So we did an experiment to add a few drops of an apricot liquor to the sparkling. This seemed to be a wonderful addition. Unfortunately we ran out of the delicious strawberries the evening before as this also would have been a great addition especially for an aperitif.
Only 225 cases were made and will be initially available for Mia Nipote Club Members and then the general public. Price is listed at $48.