On a recent trip to Washington’s beautiful Yakima Valley Wine Country, I visited Treveri Cellars and their Sparkle tasting room. Treveri specializes in sparkling wines—in fact, sparkling wines include the full portfolio at Treveri. The winery is family-owned and opened in 2010 with the purpose of putting Washington sparkling wines on the map. On my map, Treveri is circled with the note, “Visit. Visit again. Repeat.” These are wines you need to try.
I love sparkling wines. When I gather friends or family, I enjoy the drama and tension of popping open a bottle. Although no one really expects the wine to spout out of the bottle and spray the ceiling—and personally, I wouldn’t want to waste the wine—that “Pop!” starts a party on a fun note. Sparkling wines goes well with fruit and cheese, snacks, desserts, and those occasional big-deal brunches. I like them with many entrees as well.
Winemaker and owner, Jüergen Grieb, is a native of Trier, Germany (my favorite German city and my daughter’s middle name). “Treveri” is the historic name of Trier.
Why and how did Grieb decide to devote his art and work on sparkling wines? True, he has a degree in winemaking and sparkling winemaking from Trier, which is known for sparkling wines, but his decision was also based on years of working and living in Yakima Valley, knowing the land and seeing opportunity.
“While California has sparkling wine houses, most are very large and owned by the French,” he says.
At the time Juergen decided to branch out on his own there were 750 wineries in Washington—very few produced a variety of sparkling wines—that is, varietals and expanded sugar levels from Extra-Brut through Demi-Sec. He felt the quality of fruit here was exceptional and would lend to high quality sparkling wines.
“He’s literally worked the entire aspect of sparkling wine,” Jeurgen’s wife and Treveri co-owner, Julie Grieb says.
Indeed he has.
The méthod traditionnelle, or the German term; klassiche flaschengarung is used for all Treveri wines. (This used to be called, méthod champenoise, but the French successfully lobbied the EU to restrict that term to the Champagne region.) Regardless, it’s a process that takes 12 -18 months before a wine can be bottled. The grapes first need to be picked at a particular stage of sugar levels.
The first fermentation stage is the same as for still wines; natural sugar in the grapes is converted to alcohol and the resulting carbon dioxide is allowed to escape. The wine is bottled along with yeasts and a small amount of sugar, stopped with a temporary plug and stored horizontally for a second fermentation. This time, the carbon dioxide is trapped in the bottle. Sugar levels determine the pressure of the bottle. The bottles are stored and turned in precise measure, called “riddling”. When it’s time, the temporary plug or “ice plug” is “disgorged,” shooting out of the bottle. As much as one-fourth of the bottle then needs to be re-filled.
Treveri’s Chardonnay Extra Brut is fresh, dry, very fruit-forward. It’s their best all-round, all-purpose sparkling wine, whose quality exceeds what you’ll find at your grocery store or wine shops at much higher prices. This wine has won the most awards for Treveri: 90 points awarded by Wine Spectator and it’s been served at White House State dinners and James Beard Foundation dinners. The wine perfectly complements food and is also perfect for just sipping. It’s my personal all-purpose favorite.
Treveri’s Sparkling Rose is complex; a good sparkling rose that is excellent for sipping as well as pairing with many foods. You’ll like how versatile it is with foods. I loved the berry flavors in this wine. Again, it’s a cut above many others on the market.
The “must-try” Treveri wine is their Sparkling Syrah, a Brut with 13 grams of sugar per liter. The deep cherry and grape flavors, and all round rich flavor and texture of this wine are superb. This is a sparkling wine that truly can stand up to and complement a beef, lamb or pork entrée or rich tomato pasta dish. It’s also grand served it with a rich dark chocolate dessert, or just for sipping.
You may have to educate your friends on Syrah sparkling wines. You really have to look close to see those bubbles and this wine is still a rarity in the U.S.. Syrah sparkling wines are quite popular in Australia, where they’re known as “black bubbles.” This is one that not all winemakers will get right, so Treveri is an excellent choice, and again, offers an excellent value.
My personal preference for dry wines notwithstanding, Treveri’s Demi-Secs are very enjoyable, very fruit forward, and have no bitter end taste. And the Gewuertztraminer and Reisling both allow Grieb’s German roots to fully shine.
Splits and magnums are available for some of the wines and their wedding purchase program is well worth looking into for that special occasion. What better way to celebrate than with a flute of sparkling wine! – by Nancy Zaffaro, RFT Contributor
IF YOU GO…VISIT:
• Treveri Cellars, Wapato, Washington, www.trevericellars.com.
• Contact the good folks at YakimaValley Tourism for information in planning your trip; www.visityakima.com