Winery: Cougar Vineyard & Winery
Product/Varietal: 100% Brachetto
AVA on Bottle: Temecula Valley
Winemaker: Rick Buffington
How They Describe It
This grape originates from the Piemonte region of Italy. This native red grape is used for sweet wines, both still and sparkling. Unusually aromatic found maily in Roero, Asti and Alessandria. Both the colour and flavor of strawberries. Brachetto is the Italian word for Braquet, which the French consider an old Provencal specialty and which is a valued ingredient in the red and pink wines of Bellet near Nice. Yields are low and the vine is quite delicate but the wine is truly distinctive. Cougar produces a sweet, frizzante version. Cougar Winery was the first winery to get this varietal recognized in the US, so you are drinking history!
How I Describe It
The Cougar 2019 Brachetto is clear, pale, and lemon-hued primarily. There seems to be an incredibly slight pink tint if you look closely, resembling a Blanc de Noir. This makes sense, as both Brachetto and Pinot Noir (the grape used in Blanc de Noir Champagnes) have dark skins.
Green apple, pear blossom, apricot, and juicy strawberry flesh contribute the bulk of the wine’s aromas. Orange peel and mango join a twinge of wet stone, creating a layer of intrigue.
Pear, orange, apple, and ripe mango going strawberry flesh and sweet cream in the Cougar 2019 Brachetto. A hint of brioche, floral chamomile, lime, and apricot round out the palate and remains to the finish.
The 2019 Brachetto is medium-sweet — with enough sugar to accompany many confections, but not viscous like some dessert wines (e.g., the ones you find in slender 375 mL bottles). Medium acid creates some balance, along with fairly low alcohol (11.2% ABV). In Italian, the term frizzante refers to a sparkling wine which is only lightly carbonated. Bubbliness in sparkling wines is referred to as mousse; in this case, the mousse is considered “delicate” (by comparison, the word to describe mousse in most Champagnes is “creamy”). The wine has medium body, medium intensity, and medium finish.
Why is This Wine Special?
This is somewhat of a momentous review at Temecula Wine Ratings. Since launching in April 2019, we’ve reviewed red wines and white wines. We’ve reviewed dry wines and sweet wines. But for the first time, TWR is reviewing a sparkling wine.
But it gets better. TWR’s first sparkling review is about a truly unique wine — one which you most likely will not find anywhere else in the United States. That’s because Cougar owner/winemaker Rick Buffington was the first winemaker to have Brachetto recognized in the US as a varietal. It’s entirely likely Cougar is the only American vineyard and winery which is growing and producing Brachetto.
Brachetto is a grape native to the Piedmont region in northern Italy. Despite the region’s hilliness and altitude, Piedmontese grapes create delicious wines in the Temecula Valley AVA.
But wait, there’s more. Brachetto grapes, when grown in Piedmont, are normally used to create a sparkling wine called Brachetto d’Acqui — a red sparkling wine. By contrast, the Cougar 2019 Brachetto is a white sparkling wine, making what we have in Temecula all the more unique.
The nice thing about the Cougar 2019 Brachetto is its unobtrusive drinking. As a frizzante sparkling wine, the bubbles aren’t overstimulating. And the sweet fruit-forward flavor profile makes for easy celebratory drinking.
When & How I Would Drink It
The Cougar 2019 Brachetto is the quintessential bubbly to bring to a celebration, particularly if some guests are new to drinking sparkling wine. For example, even high quality Champagnes and spumante (fully carbonated) Proseccos can be overpowering to some drinkers. And the extremely dry brut style can be off-putting for less seasoned quaffers. The 2019 Brachetto solves these problems with its semi-sweetness and frizzante bubbles.
Additionally, Cougar’s 2019 Brachetto is well-crafted to pair with sweet dishes without being cloying. In other words, the wine has just enough residual sugar to complement tarts, pies and cakes without losing its fruity brightness. Try it next to chocolate covered strawberries too.
Last, and getting to the point, if you’re looking for something original to bring to a Christmas or New Years Even celebration, the Cougar 2019 Brachetto is an outstanding choice. Stay safe, everyone!
How to Get It
Order: https://www.cougarvineyards.com/contact or call (951) 491-0825
Bottle Price: $30 (discounts for wine club members)
Cases Produced: 170 cases
Have you tried the Cougar 2019 Brachetto? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.