Review: Illinois Sparkling Company Brut
Imagine you are a cold climate winery. You by necessity have to use a lot of cold-climate grapes. Cold climates often struggle to fully ripen their grapes, and thus have high levels of acidity and lower levels of sugar, leaving you wine that is lower in alcohol and sometimes too acidic in the glass. There are several ways to work with higher acid grapes, and Illinois Sparkling Company has chosen the most labor intensive way of all-they make them into bubbly. They then go a step further and chose to make most of them in the traditional method that ones makes Champagne (there are also a few Pet-Nats on their list).
We recently had the chance to taste ISC’s Brut, a blend of Illinois grown Chardonel, Frontenac Gris, and La Crosse. Light yellow in the glass, the mousse is what you expect from the méthode traditionnelle, with a small beaded creamy head and regular bubbles that persist in coming from the bottom after the mousse subsides. Light aroma of jasmine, chalk, and zest. Medium body with yeast, lime, and peach up front, followed by toffee on the mid-palate, and a long finish of caramel and vanilla. With the slight dosage of sugar and the bubbles, this wine manages to tame the grapes in the blend into balance. Excellent value both for the price and the varietals chosen to make this unique bubbly.
Winemaker: Illinois Sparkling Company
Varietals: Unspecified blend of Chardonel, Frontenac Gris, and La Crosse
Rating: 92 pts