Comparing Bruts

Brut and Natural are words that we use to describe the final dosage or sweetness level of sparkling wine. In France, Natural, Brut Nature or any of the various proprietary names communicating the same, ranges from 0 to 6 g/l. Brut, the next level of increasing sweetness, ranges from 0 to 15 g/l.

Thus there is plenty of room for variety in the expression of sweetness. We also have varying acidity levels that profoundly impact the appearance of sweetness.

In the US, we’re not bound to the numbers listed above, as you’ll see with the Natural from Korbel comes in at 7 g/l. You can, however, count on a consistent use of the terms Natural, Brut and even sweeter indicators like Extra Dry within the product line of a given producer. Korbel’s Natural may have a higher dosage than another winery’s Brut, yet we can count on Korbel’s Natural being drier than its Brut and its Brut being drier than its Extra Dry.

The flight at hand compares 2 wines labeled Brut, one from Champagne and the other from Mendocino County, with the Natural from Korbel

Korbel Russian River Valley Champagne Natural’ Méthode Champenoise 2005
Very good green apple flavors, light bodied and very clean; their best sparkling wine. 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay; style instigated at Korbel by Adolf Heck in 1962, .7% dosage, P&B Guerneville. 12.5% $10.69 at Bottle Barn Korbel

Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Brut nv
The style is sweeter than some others labeled brut, a softer, less acidic profile. 15% Chardonnay, 55% Pinot and 30% Meunier ; Founded 1785 elabore in Reims, NM -211-001; 420,000 cases total production. 12% purchased for $33.99 at Bottle Barn Piper-Heidsieck

Scharffenberger Mendocino County Brut Sparkling Wine nv
The last time I tasted this, a year or so ago with winemaker Tex Sawyer, the fruit shined through in a softer, less acidic impression than the wines from fellow Anderson Valley sparkling star Roederer Estate. Not that one style was better than the other, just that they are wonderfully different. Tonight there were also some nice butterscotch notes as well. 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay with 100% ml. There is a dosage of 1% and a pH down at 2.95. P&B in Philo 12% $14.49 at Bottle Barn Scharffenberger

About Ray

Ray Johnson is the Executive Director of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University. He writes about food and wine, his travels and the business of wine. He makes his home in Sonoma County, California.
This entry was posted in California, Champagne, France, Mendocino County, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, Sparkling Dry. Bookmark the permalink.

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