Much like the traditional still wines that came before it, American sparkling wine has evolved from regional curiosity to revered Champagne alternative. Although the shelves of most American liquor stores remain oversaturated with cheap bottles of what is essentially alcoholic grape cider, a growing number of American cellars are redefining what it means to drink American sparkling. At Third Coast Restaurant, in the heart of the Texas Medical Center, Sommelier David Cook is educating Houstonians on the maturity and merits of some of the country’s best kept wine secrets. Through their Third Coast Tasting Series, the restaurant offers guided tastings on anything from Kentucky Bourbon to Sonoma Brut. This month, American sparkling wine, and I was lucky enough to be in attendance.
Cook welcomed guests to the tasting with a bubbly cocktail, featuring McPherson’s sparkling wine from their cellars in Lubbock, Texas. One of the few Texas sparkling wines available today, the blend is a side project of McPherson’s resident wine marker, who sources his grapes from two north Texas vineyards. The cocktail was a simple concoction of McPherson’s sparkling wine, cocktail bitters and a slice of Texas blood orange. A delightfully light palette cleanser for the upcoming West Coast wines on the menu.
In all, the tasting featured four main wines from various regions of the California coast, all sparkling of course, each as surprisingly complex as the last. Take for instance, the Caraccioli Cellars Brut Cuvee, a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir blend from the Santa Lucia Highlands. Cuvee Brut is a blend typical of France but popular among wine markers in the Americas. Layered with hints of citric acids, fig and apricot, this is a wine that represents the evolution of American sparkling. A crisp and refreshing start with a long, decadent finish. Also noteworthy is the Rack and Riddle Blanc de Blancs. This is more of an everyday wine compared to the $50 Caraccioli Brut, but proves that American sparkling blends can be an affordable alternative to European bottles without sacrificing on quality. With an aroma of green apples and lemon, the wine finishes with a bouquet that is tropical and lightly refreshing.
The tasting series at Third Coast offers guests an opportunity to explore new interests, or perhaps enjoy old passions with the expertise and guidance of industry experts and world class service. Next month’s tasting will feature Pinot Noir, followed by Irish whiskies in the spring. Whatever your liquid pleasure, be sure to check out this exciting and exclusive event series happening each month, right here in Houston.