We sniffed, sipped and were surprised.
Yeasty aroma, bright green apple and grapefruit flavors, nice weight and depth: It was a sophisticated, Champagne-style sparkling brut from an unlikely place--Peru, Illinois.
Illinois Sparkling Co., a new venture from August Hill Winery, launched last fall. Its collection of wines--priced in the $30 range and available at a handful of nearby locations--are our top picks for upcoming toasting.
The five wines are made according to the traditional Méthode Champenoise, using 100 percent Illinois-grown grapes. The brut is the style closest to old-world Champagne; try the Stereo, a slightly off-dry blend of St. Pepin and Golden Muscat grapes, alongside the bold spice of Thai or Indian curries.
The Heirloom rosé evokes the words "lovely" and "funky," with its golden-rosy tone, dark dried-strawberry flavor and a scent reminiscent of fortified wines.
The deep hue and bracing acidity of the demi-sec Dollface rosé brings Lambrusco to mind. It would do well beside a plate of charcuterie, but its perceptible age and hints of cinnamon and clove add a complexity the Italian sparkler often lacks.
One of the winery's employees pairs this with corned beef--so pick up an extra bottle for St. Patrick's Day, too.
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