Tott's Brut California Champagne, NV


Nov 19, 2001


The Bottom Line A decent sparkling wine for the money. Fine for large groups, budget-minded celebrations. Not a favorite of mine, but a good value.

One of America's most popular sparkling wines, Tott's, is not listed in Epinions' database of wines.

Have no fear, gentle reader, as I will provide you with the low down on this popular California Champagne, err... sparkling wine.

Tott's is a product of the Ernest & Julia Gallo Winery of Modesto, California -- the world's largest producer of wine products.

E&J Gallo also produces a number of other sparkling wines, including the Indigo Hills brand, Ballatore Spumante (sweeter, in the style of an Italian Asti Spumante), and André Champagne.

In the words of E&J Gallo, Tott's is "A premium, high-quality sparkling wine for more sophisticated consumers."


Tott's Reserve Cuvée
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This is a light, 10.5% alcohol by volume Charmat  Method sparkling wine. Unlike traditional Champagne wines, this wine is produced via the "bulk method" where the wine undergoes secondary fermentation in large stainless steel "pressure" tanks (instead of individual bottles).

In May, 1998, the Wine Spectator rated this wine as high as 87 ("Very Good"), with a review praising its "[F]loral aromas and a tight, firm core of lemon-lime and grapefruit flavors. It finishes long, with zingy acidity."

That, in my opinion, is a very generous rating, and a very generous description of the flavor of this wine. I had a couple of glasses of this sparkling wine with my lunch (and my afternoon cigar, a handmade Joya de Nicaragua Toro).

Tott's California Brut Reserve Cuvée is a light sparkling wine with a gently sweet, apple cider-like nose. The flavor was unexceptional, light, and green apple-like in flavor. This is a medium-dry (slightly sweet) Brut Champagne with a slightly fruity edge. There is nothing exceptional about this wine's flavor and, indeed, I have tried other sparkling wines -- available at a lower price -- that I find better in mouthfeel and taste. In particular, I offer the Cook's California Brut -- a slightly stronger 11% alcohol by volume sparkling wine which usually retails for 30-40% less than Tott's.

Some Production Data:
   Residual Sugar: 1.40
   Total Acidity: .71
   pH: 3.15

A Note on Residual Sugar: Residual sugar is amount of sugar that remains in a wine after the fermentation process has naturally stopped (or intentionally suspended, as the case may be).

   Dry - Less than 0.5% residual sugar
   Slightly Sweet - 0.6-1.4% residual sugar
   Medium Sweet - 1.5-2.9% residual sugar
   Sweet - 3.0-5.9% residual sugar

About the best thing I can say about this sparkling wine is that it is attractively packaged and looks like a higher-quality wine (due to the white-foil wrapper about the bottle's neck and the use of a "king's crown" in the label's design).


Price and Availability
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I purchased this sparkling wine at a local grocery store; price: About $6 for a 750 ml bottle, including sales tax. I sometimes see this sparkling wine for sale at around $5.49 - $5.99 per bottle. You can also purchase online at Beverages and More (www.bevmo.com). Price: $6.99 per bottle.

This is a very popular national brand that should be available in most every liquor store across the country.


Recommendations
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This sparkling wine is fine for casual entertaining, large-group parties, and budget-minded celebrations. This sparkling wine may best be used as a mixer when paired with orange juice (Mimosa) or Campari (a mildly bitter aperitif).

In rare cases, usually around the holidays, I see this sparkling wine available for about $5 -- a great price. Personally, I prefer the more pear-like flavor of Cook's, but this is a fairly decent sparkling wine for the money.

Verdict: 2½-stars. Drinkable. A solid performer in its price class.

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