Wine Review: Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay Sparkling Wine

Hi y'all, since Emma is out of the country this week, I’m reviewing a wine that we both tasted recently.

The Thibaut Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay is a little sparkler out of Virginia that's making big waves. It also has quite the backstory. The label is a partnership between two French winemarkers - Claude Thibaut and Manuel Janisson. Claude Thibaut was raised in Champagne and studied winemaking in Reims before moving to the US in 2003 to consult with the Kluge Estate in Charlottesville, Virginia (Kluge is now Trump Wines; yes, it was purchased by the Donald). Two years later, he started his own label in partnership with his friend Manuel Janisson, the producer of the Janisson & Fils label. Their goal was to create a premium, successful sparkler in Virginia. By all accounts, they have succeeded! The combination of French talent and Virginia terroir has taken the East coast by storm. The pair released their first vintage in 2007. In 2009, President Obama served the NV Thibaut-Janisson Chardonnay (sparkling, obviously) at his first State dinner.

These two don’t mess around. Thibaut is considered a master of the “methode champenoise” (or “methode traditionelle") method of producing sparkling wine. This is the way the French produce Champagne (you can only call it Champagne if it’s grown and produced in the Champagne region - sparkling wine produced anywhere else is called … you guessed it, sparkling wine). Basically, this means the wine goes through a double fermentation process - once in a steel tank, and once again in the bottle. This is the way “premium” sparkling wines are made. Less expensive sparklers are made with different methods, but that’s a topic for another post! Suffice it to say, if you see “methode champenoise” or “methode traditionelle” on the bottle, you’re getting a Champagne or a sparkling wine that has been made in a more labor-intensive (and therefore more expensive) process.

Thibaut-Jannisson makes several sparkling wines, but the Blanc de Chardonnay is their flagship wine. And for good reason. The wine is 100 percent Chardonnay, aged for three years. At first blush, the wine is a pale, golden color with a steady stream of bubbles. The palate is fresh and rewarding: ripe pear, yellow apple, yellow flowers and young nectarine bounce around the mouth and round out with a refreshing, crisp acidity. This sparkler is dynamite with food, and would be a hit as an aperitif at a dinner party, as well.

But you don’t have to wait for the food - Emma and I drank this in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, for no reason at all. Life is short, drink good wine!

Rating: I’ll take half a case!

(Seriously, the Thibaut-Janisson is probably one of the best sparklers I’ve had on the East coast, and it’s in my backyard, to boot! Since it retails for only around $30-35, I’ll be stocking this one for dinner parties.)