This week we decided to do something a little different so that we could get as many reviews in as possible this month. I split the group into 3 (The Harlots, The Hussies, and The Floozies) and assigned each group a different bottle of bubbly. I tried to balance the groups between those who love sweet to middle and those who love middle to dry. It’s not a perfect system, but if you’re looking for that–you are SOOO reading the wrong blog. Since I snuck a really sweet one in on the group last week, I tried to make amends with those who are still cursing my name, and assigned three brut bubblys. But before we get started, I need to introduce you to a new member of our tasting team…
This little mama actually grew one of these other cheap women in her oven, but we’ll never tell who. These day this witty granny works her way around the legal system (we’re just not sure which side of the bars she’s on). She spends her weekend furloughs running an underground gang of grandmothers who loiter in parking lots and get kicked out of restaurants for smuggling in booze. With parental guidance like that, you can see how the rest of us turned out this way.
The Lesson: Because Cheap Don’t Mean Stupid
All 3 of our selections this week are produced using the same method used to create traditional champagnes from the Champagne region of France– methode Champenoise. The secondary fermentation must take place in the bottle to qualify for this distinction. Domaine St. Michelle is produced in the US but Freixenet and Juame Serra Cristalino are both produced in the Catalonia region of Spain. Sparkling wines from Spain are called Cavas. There are laws in Spain that govern how they are produced. Not only must Cavas ferment in the bottle they will be sold in, they must also ferment for a minimum of 9 months. So, if you’re downing some of this Spanish bubbly, spraying it on your friends or licking it off of them, remember that a lot of time and effort went into making that sparkly goodness. Another note is that these wines are produced by using 3 types of grapes: Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarello. And now that we all feel a little smarter and can show-up the little know-it-all at the office Christmas party, let’s get on with the show.
The Three Amigos
After buying all three of the assigned beverages at my local Market Street, I got down to business. The first thing I had to do was pretty these bottles up a bit. I sent them all for some Glamor Shots so they wouldn’t feel self conscious. (An ADD side note: I actually worked for Hollywood Portraits when I was 19 and going to college. I apologize now to all the women who I plastered with 13 coats of orange base and layers of green eye shadow. I’m sure Karma got me back.) Anyway, Here is the first bubbly…
Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut
According to the makers, this is the most imported sparkling wine in the world. It is a traditional Cava and rests in the bottle for up to 18 months–inside a cave! The first thing I noticed is that the bottle is beautiful. It makes it look much more expensive than it is. The Barefoot Bubbly just looked cheap, but these guys have really gone out of their way to dress up their product. Nobody would have to use any of my Cheap Disguise ideas if they decide to take this to a party. Now, this is how the Freixenet folks describe this bubbly…
“Cordon Negro Brut is crisp, clean and well balanced. It is medium-bodied with a palate of apple, pear and bright citrus flavors with a moderately long finish and a crisp touch of ginger. It goes great with any type of food.”
Now, let’s see what our panel of cheap ladies had to say:
Freixinet brut (hard to spell at 6am). The bottle is very classy looking for the price. I test-tasted it with my parking lot friends and they all agreed it was not very tasty by itself, but later was great in Mimosas. It did make a lot of bubbles, which is good in a champagne and helped it mix with the orange juice in our travel mugs! 3 Press-on Nails
As you know, this week I tried multiple places to buy the Jaume Sierra Cristalino & it isn’t available. Since AR is still behind the times, I bought the Freixenet. I’m not sure if it’s because I’d already had a few beers when I popped the champagne cork, or if it was really that good, but after the first champagne flute, I drank it straight from the bottle (keeping it cheap here in the Natural State)! I give it 3.5 press on nails! It wasn’t pretty in pink, but it was beautifully bubbly. It had a crisp, clean taste- I enjoyed it so much I finished the entire bottle!
I was a bit nervous about what sort of beverage I might have to drink this week, since last week’s assignment looked like what I imagine Barbie urine looks like. I heaved a sigh of relief when I saw that I got to sample some Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut. This has to be one of my favorite inexpensive Champagnes and it has been my go-to sparkly party beverage for years. The Lords of Cheap Champagne must have been smiling down on me. I happily trotted off to Wal-Mart to throw a bottle in my cart. It was a busy week here at my house, with lots to celebrate. Finally on Friday, I had a quiet moment where I could pop that bad boy open!I poured the bubbly into a large pilsner glass because I couldn’t be bothered to go digging out a proper champagne flute. Close enough, right? My glass erupted with bubbles like my kids’ science experiment gone right. The bubbles settled and a lovely pale golden color was revealed. I sniffed and the scent was light and crisp – not perfumed or floral. I took a sip – Aaaah. Not to sweet, not too dry, not too bubbly. It goes down a little too easy, and before you know it, the bottle is light and so am I. And what do you know, a knock at the door and my friend shows up with a huge trophy shaped like a giant rooster that she won at her job. Sounds like a good reason for a toast to me. We pass around the bottle one more time with the perfect drink to toast over a giant plumed and bedazzled cock, uh I mean rooster. 4 Press-on Nails!
Drinking the first glass you feel like “I’m the shit” because it tastes like the real deal. But after a couple more glasses the dryness starts to get to you and you have the horrible realization that maybe you just aren’t as classy as you thought you were. If you’re only going to have one glass (and who the hell does that?) then this is worth a solid 4 Press on Nails, but if you want to drink the whole bottle like a proper cheap woman does, then this gets 2 Press-on Nails.
I know a gimmick when I see it; I invented it – dancin’ around a horse with nothin’ but feathers between me and the droolers – you git the idea. I didn’t think much of this bottle as I pried out that chubby cork. Kept shaking my head thinkin’ this black bottle ain’t nothin’ more than a giant feather fan. There ain’t nothin’ sexy about a feather fan unless the chicken holdin’ the feathers is sassy enough to strut and squawk at the same time. Let me tell you, this champagne can make me sing all night long. I glued five press-on nails, but that pinkie one broke when I twirled my old feather fan, so Freixie just gets four and half.
The bottle: Friexnet Brut The time: 5pm The activity: making dinner. I cracked open this bottle as I settled down to make dinner and I have to say it did an excellent job of keeping me company! The dry fizzy bubbles were the perfect accompaniment as I fried burgers in a pan! By the time we sat down to dinner I didn’t mind that the burgers were a bit charred! 🙂 4 Press-on Nails.
The Verdict: The average score of this bubbly came to around 3.6 Press-on Nails. That ain’t too bad. If you like dry, consider Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut for your next bottle of cheap sparkles.
* *Ok, here’s an inappropriate but true story surrounding this last bubbly. Most of the women on this panel live in the South. If you live there or have visited there, you understand. If not, I’ll educate you. We speak different and the education system occasionally stills leaves children behind. In fact, a lot of them just jump right off that bus and run away. I got a text from a participant asking in a tongue in cheek manner about the political incorrectness of the name. This is how that text string continued:
Me: “Well, the “e” (in Negro) is short instead of long. That makes it Spanish instead of White Cracker.”
Her: “That’s not how the expert at (blank) liquor store pronounced it!”
And welcome to the South, people. I’d love to hear how he pronounced the Freixenet part. Frex-e-net?
Domaine St. Michelle Brut
This sparkling wine is produced in the good ol’ US of A. The grapes are grown in Washington state. The company uses the traditional (Champenoise) method to produce this bubbly but have the integrity to not label it as champagne since it comes from the pacific northwest (I may be cheap but I admire folks who respect tradition). They rank their Brut as middle of the road–not too sweet and not too dry. Let’s see what our girls had to say.
My first glass of Domaine St. Michelle Brut was so yummy, that it was with an unwilling heart that I offered a fellow wife, at a football watching party, a glass of it from my bottle. Luckily, she declined. My second glass tasted even better; cold and crisp, it did not coat my tongue in sugar as the last champagne we judged had. So, with an even more unwilling heart, I offered a glass to another woman at the party. Were my feelings hurt when she declined as well? No. But I did not want the champagne to feel bad, so I finished off the bottle. I may have no idea who won the football game, but I believe I have found a new “go to” champagne, and so I bestow upon this bottle 4.5 press on nails. The only reason I did not give it 5 press on nails (AKA-a panty dropper), is because my panties did not fall off…that I remember.
My assigned champagne this week was Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut. I heard that it was one of the ‘best of the cheapest champagnes’, so I was anxious to give it a taste. Well, ok a guzzle… Ok, I drank the whole bottle. Ehem…by myself. After my first sip I remember thinking, “Whoa, ok… so that’s why they call it ‘dry’.” It literally made my tongue stick to the top of my mouth and my cheeks suck in! It was very, very bubbly. The first few sips had a strong and tart aftertaste, but I didn’t mind. Before I knew it I was on my third glass and trying not to slur my words or run into any walls! I would like to score this champagne 4 press on nails.
The Domaine St. Michelle was better than the Barefoot Pink Bubbly. We cracked it open and shared it with our 18 year old college freshman who had just finished finals and is home for Christmas with a friend. They thoroughly enjoyed it but that isn’t saying much for two kids who will drink Mad Dog, Boone’s Farm and Milwaulkee’s Best on a regular basis! I give it 3.5 press on nails. The boys would have given it a 5!
The Verdict: The average score for Domaine St. Michelle came to 4 Press-on Nails! If this bubbly was a cheap woman she’d be the prettiest damn girl at the tractor pull. If you want a dry sparkling wine, with a fun label that was made in the states, give it a go.
Juame Serra Cristalino
This little sparkler has got a bit of an infamous reputation. You see, the Cristal people didn’t like them naming this cava Cristalino. They got their French panties all twisted up, sued them and won!! Now the Juame folks have to put a disclaimer right on their front label that declares them to not be affiliated with the Cristal folks in any form or fashion. Since this little bubbly has seen the inside of a courtroom, it must be naughty–I like naughty.
But this cava has another little sticker on it too. That one says “Value Brand of the Year–3 Consecutive years–Wine & Spirits Magazine.” That’s not too shabby. Cristal may have all the rappers, ballers, young hollywood and reality stars with too much money for their void of all talents, but Cristal has….well, it has us… and…hmm…Well, I’m sure Lindsey Lohan tried to snort it off some DJ’s lap at some point. Anyway, we decided to offer this little trouble maker up to our panel of cheap women. There was just one little problem, two of the women in this group live in a state that doesn’t import from this company. That just made this little number even more of a bad boy, but it didn’t change the fact that we didn’t have a full panel. To make things worse–we were all covered in an ice storm. As much as I tried to make my dog pull me around the neighborhood to find a substitute, she wouldn’t do it (shitty excuse for a husky mix). So, I did what I had to do. I made the hubby stand in. I know. I’m ashamed. He isn’t cheap or a woman, but I had to work with what I had. Anyway, on with the review.
Jaume is the kind of beverage that can get my twinkie twirlin’ again. It fizzed up real nice like and didn’t get all high and mighty when I used that ice cube to give it a chill in my glass. Now I tried it all proper-like chilled too. I tossed the bottle into the fridge to get the whole kit and caboodle cool while I sipped on my first glass. Jaume was good to me and didn’t get all gross and syrupy, makin’ me need to take a chaw to git rid of the taste. That blasted thumb nail wouldn’t stay on so Jaume gets four of ‘em.
The bubbles!! There were so many they made me tingle in a good way. The first sip did make my mouth feel like I’d been licking a sponge and it sucked all the moisture out of my mouth. It was tart and tangy and after the first glass, I didn’t care so much about my particle board tongue. It could easily disguise itself as something more expensive. I hate to admit it but I wouldn’t have minded a tiny bit of sweetness. Nothing too much- just a little sweet to its sass. I’m sure if I’d managed to drink the entire thing my panties would have come off. Wait! I don’t wear panties. I’m giving this Spanish bubbly 3.5 Press-on Nails.
It’s dry. (After requesting some elaboration several days later) No panties were dropped, I can tell you that much. 3 of those nail things.
The Verdict: This naughty little bubbly came in with 3.5 Press-on Nails. I paid $6.99 a bottle while it was on special, making it a great choice if you’re needing to serve a bunch of folks at say a family party for the next time uncle Jess gets out of jail. It also makes great mimosas, so give Juame Serra Cristalino a try.
And that’s it for this week, friends. I hope you have your holiday shopping done, if not, you’ll probably run into me. Please ignore the smell of liquor and my twitching eye (and give me at least 10 feet of personal space). And one final word, raise a glass of cheap bubbly in the name of Chardonnay-nay Jones–it be her birthday today! Cheers!
And just in case there’s a lady out there who doesn’t think Karma has given me enough punishment for poking her in the eye with blue mascara, here is an early ’90’s Hollywood Portrait of yours truly.