What do you need most when there’s a celebratory occasion? Why, champagne, of course. How can you make a toast to the bride and groom, or mark the festive time of New Year’s Eve, without a glass of bubbly.
We are blessed to have Santa Cruz local Barry Jackson, winemaker extraordinaire, to turn to for some of the best champagne-style wine around. Because it’s not allowed to be called “champagne” unless it comes from the Champagne region of France, then “sparkling wine” is the accepted lingua franca.
But Jackson’s sparkling wine, made in the methode champenoise style, is equal to anything you would find that’s made by our Gallic friends. A taste of his 1997 Blanc De Blanc ($50) is the proof of the pudding.
I was recently in Europe for a month sampling wines in the South of France and regions of Spain. One of the highlights was visiting Codorniu just outside of Barcelona. This famous champagne maker is a huge business, but I find it just as much fun to visit Jackson’s small operation. With my husband and three friends, we head to Jackson’s tasting room on the Westside for a sampling of his wines. We’re impressed by his accomplishments – turning out some of the best champagne-style wines this side of France. But then, he’s been doing it for years, and the wealth of experience he’s garnered really shows in his wines. His tasting room is down-to-earth friendly—you’re surrounded by wines aging in bottles and barrels —and Jackson is always happy when he’s talking grapes. He describes the process of making his Equinox sparking wine – not the least of which are the years involved, the constant turning of the bottle (riddling), and then having to “disgorge” the yeast that settles in the neck. Jackson tells us they have to freeze the neck in order that the yeast that settles can be scooped out. Everything is done by hand, and it’s a long and tedious process that brings us to that much-awaited sip of a superbly crafted wine – Jackson’s Blanc De Blanc.
The Blanc De Blanc is from Chardonnay grapes grown in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It’s aged for 10 years “en tirage”—in contact with the spent yeast. It’s completely “au natural”—meaning no dosage (sugar syrup) is added to the finished wine. This golden-hued beauty with intense flavors of honey, citrus and hazelnut, is just what you need for New Year’s Eve. It’s time to pop that cork and count our blessings as we go into a whole new year.
Equinox, 427 Swift St., Unit C, Santa Cruz. 423-3000. equinoxwine.com.
Wine News: Generosa Winery
Generosa Winery, located on Summit Road, closed its doors for good on Dec. 20. After the death of winemaker Chris Gemignani two years ago, Generosa finally decided to call it a day.