‘Tiny bubbles...’ still divine...
Updated: May 15, 2020
A love of all things bubbly is a perennial theme throughout many a wine journey, leading to endless fascination with this rather accidental result of wine fermenting twice! In all its guises, no matter the process, grapes, origins or resulting varied size of bubble, even a gentle spritz of sparkle brings about delight in every sip, most definitely including Perlé!
From the traditional and rather grand provenance of Champagne, through to Prosecco, Cava, Sekt, Spumante and Cremant, differences are largely to do with grapes, origin and process or method (bottle or tank) which also influence the resultant bubble in this ambrosia effervescence. Some primary flavours in Champagne are citrus, peach and almond, whereas Prosecco is most often reminiscent of green apple, melon, honeysuckle and pear, and perhaps underlying my latest enchantment with a pétillant wine is that it seemed to bring the best of these flavours together, and quite prettily bridge that beginning transition of still wine to sparkling. Despite it being a gentle 'sparkle' or light spritz in no way diminishes the delight to be found. A most intriguing tingle on the tongue, ‘pétillant’ is the French term for natural wine that is just lightly sparkling, or frizzante in Italy, and some good examples can be found in Portugal, like Lagosta Vinho Verde…
Perlé, which actually has a more appropriate ring to it, refers to young white wines with natural 'pearls' or light sparkle from CO2 retained by keeping the wine at a low temperature and bottling just after fermentation (not to be confused with Perle the white German wine grape planted primarily in Franconia!)
Très Cantou Gaillac Perlé 2018 from south west France by American winemaker Nicole McPheeters is a brilliant rendition of this – refreshing in its citrus undertones but elegantly balanced with sun-kissed summer fruit appeal enhanced by a delicate fizz. And as I’m also a complete sap for little wine anecdotes, Gaillac Perlé also stood out with its delightful wine story on the back label about the main grape itself – Loin de l’Oeil (‘far from the eye’). At the time of writing we’re in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic and as every opportunity for a spark to the imagination and vicarious living is so welcomed, this rather romantic-sounding native grape conjures up panoramic sweeps of lush vineyards as far as the eye can see perhaps, but in fact, it’s actually about how the grape bunches form away from the bud (eye) toward the end of the cane (mature shoot on a vine), and a first read of this also seemed to mirror in anticipation the little fizz to follow… And the treble clef on the label may also pique some curiosity... as the symbol often denotes where higher notes can be achieved, it's perhaps suggestive of the perlé taking the wine next level!
Lately we’ve all been moving more towards the path of good ol' back to basics, and there's a pleasantly rustic edge here that seems to further add to its charm. In keeping with this, it’s the perfect contrast to barbeque flavours, and even piri piri. Fling that fish onto the grill or barbeque, bask in some sunshine and quaff on one of these top of the tiny pops….!