Bubbly Beijing: Which of these six wines sparkles?

– By Jim Boyce 

“Green is go, red is stop,” explains Frank Siegel as he hands each participant two poker chips at his most recent blind wine tasting – this one focused on bubbly – on Friday night at Sequoia Cafe in Beijing. The idea: taste all six wines, then use the green chip to vote for the one that puts a sparkle in your eye and the red chip to vote for the one that leaves you flat. After a lengthy session of sipping and savoring and considering, the tasters voted and Frank revealed the totals:

The “go” wine
Redbank (Australia) – 15 green, 1 red

The “stop” wine
Norton (Argentina) – 7 red, 0 green

In the middle
(Germany) – 3 green, 7 red
Charles de Fere (France) – 1 green, 2 red
Mionetto (Italy) – 1 green, 2 red
Bouvet Ladubay (France) – 1 green, 2 red

My green chip went to Bouvet Ladubay: it had a toasty and slightly nutty nose, with a nice tingle, though I found it a tad bitter at the end. In second, I had a tie between Redbank (contrast between its toasty nose and fizzy, peachy and slightly rough mouth) and Charles de Fere (nice mouth feel, but a bit anemic). My red chip went to Norton, which came off as too sour and unripe. Close behind: the Mionetto, with a piney, almost freezer burn, smell. The Fleischer, much sweeter than the others, landed in the middle with its hint of baked apples. Note: I am not a professional wine taster, just a consumer, and these are my somewhat humble opinions.

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