We’ve missed the last few Wine Blogging Wednesdays, and darn near missed this one. Good thing we checked the calendar! This month is the 28th edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, hosted by Culinary Fool with the theme of Sparkling Wines. We had planned to hunt down an interesting sparkling Shiraz for this event, but our tardy realization that WBW was upon us forced us to rely on our inventory. We don’t keep a lot of sparkling wine around, and most of the bottles were champagne or champagne wannabes. The only suitable entry we could find in the Box Wine Cellar was a slightly dusty bottle of Ballatore Gran Spumante, no doubt acquired as a host gift at a previous holiday party.
(One slight disappointment is not being able to participate in this WBW with a box wine, or even some other kind of non-bottle packaging. The high internal pressure in sparkling wines means we can expect to see them in traditional bottles for some time to come. Bag-in-box packaging, Tetra Paks, etc., just won’t do for a pressurized product. This is the ideal time of year to look at sparkling wines, though – kudos to Culinary Fool for a great choice! For WBW #28, a bottle it is!)
Ballatore Gran Spumante
Back to the wine at hand… Ballatore Gran Spumante is an inexpensive sparkling white wine from Ballatore Cellars of Modesto, California. I normally avoid Asti Spumantes and the like as they are too sweet for my taste, so I wasn’t anticipating much when I popped the cork on this wine. The nose was quite mild, with a hint of peach. The flavor was actually better than I had expected, though perhaps I’m damning it with faint praise. Yes, it was relatively sweet, but there were nice peach, apricot, and melon notes, leading into a slightly acidic finish that left my mouth filled with the lingering flavor of grapefruit. The bubbly nature of the wine was restrained, forming many tiny bubbles on the tongue for a pleasant tingle. Overall, Ballatore Gran Spumante was better than some of the Asti Spumantes I’ve tried, and would make an inexpensive holiday party choice if most of the guests would prefer a sweeter wine. It would be best served with dessert, but non-fussy guests would probably be happy to drink it alone or with any part of the meal. It definitely fits Culinary Fool’s “party” wine category, offering both a low price and a taste that will appeal to guests who aren’t big wine fanciers.
At a mere 8% alcohol content, a glass or two of Ballatore Gran Spumante won’t get your guests overly buzzed – an advantage or disadvantage, depending on your viewpoint. You should be able to find this wine for well under $10, perhaps as low as $6 – $7. At that price, you can buy a few extra bottles to keep your holiday guests’ glasses topped up!