Sparkling wine is a category of wines in Washington that’s rising as fast as the bubbles that give it its unique appeal. One Washington winery is particularly well positioned to capture the excitement that’s happening here: Wapato-based Treveri Cellars, which produces sparkling wines exclusively.
Yes, it’s December, and it doesn’t take a wine expert to recommend that now is the right time of year to enjoy a few glasses of sparkling wine. But I’m here to tell you: The Grieb family is producing beautiful, accessibly priced bubbly that we should be drinking all year long.
Juergen Grieb and his family founded Treveri (named after the ancient Roman word for Grieb’s German hometown of Trier) in November 2010, and he and his son, Christian, now share winemaking duties. Juergen’s sparkling winemaking experience goes back to the 1970s, when he made sekt (German sparkling wine) at Duhr Sektkellerei in the Mosel Valley, and the family history with wine goes further back than that. Christian is the fifth generation of Griebs to be involved in winemaking.
Reasonable pricing has been a hallmark of the winery from the beginning. “Most of our bottles hit the $15–$20 price range,” notes Christian, “which makes them accessible for nightly consumption.” This kind of pricing, closer to value bubblies like Cava and Prosecco than to pricier Champagne, encourages experimentation, and fortunately, Treveri has a broad lineup perfect for dabbling.
I put Treveri’s wines into three buckets. Bucket one is made from traditional Champagne grape varieties (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier). Bucket two hews to the Grieb family’s Germanic roots, with sparkling versions of Riesling and Müller-Thurgau. Bucket three is more fun and less tied to any tradition: a sparkling rosé made from Syrah and Chardonnay, an off-dry sparkling Gewürztraminer and a red sparkling Syrah.
Part of sparkling wine’s recent growth spurt (double-digit percentage growth for multiple years running has American consumption of bubbly hitting a new record of 22 million cases in 2017) has come from a shift in our shared idea of what sparkling wine can be. The traditional (and limiting view) was that bubbly was appropriate for celebrations or as an aperitif. The view catching on now is that sparkling wine is among the most versatile food-pairing wines out there. Name another wine that can pair with corned beef hash and eggs for brunch, a vinaigrette-dressed green salad in the afternoon, a roasted chicken for dinner and a nighttime bucket of buttered popcorn at the movie theater.
Treveri’s own growth shows no signs of abating either. Its bottles are already for sale in 20 states, and in 2018 it’s launching an entirely new line of reserve wines (sparkling, naturally) with at least three years of yeast contact (that lengthy aging in bottle is commonplace in Champagne). There’s plenty to be happy about as Treveri wraps up another year, and as Christian points out, “Sparkling is a happy beverage.” He continues: “I’ve never seen anyone have a long day at work, come home to find bubbles in their fridge and have their mood worsen. You are alive, you made it through the day. Celebrate that.”
Paul’s Treveri Sparkling Picks
Traditional Champagne-like Sparklers
V Treveri Cellars Brut Blanc de Blancs, $15
Made entirely from Chardonnay, this has a core of fresh apple fruit, complemented by subtleties of spice and baked bread. A thread of lemony acidity keeps.
Pairs with: Brunch French toast, with dried orange peel as the secret ingredient.
NV Treveri Cellars Brut Blanc de Noirs, $20
This 100 percent Pinot Noir bubbly pours into the glass with a pale pink hue. It is true to Pinot Noir aromatically, offering plenty of earth and underbrush notes to go with beautiful cherry fruit. The mousse is fine, and the finish is clean and crisp.
Pairs with: A roasted chicken, the cavity stuffed with fresh herbs and lemon butter.
NV Treveri Cellars Brut Pinot Meunier Rosé, $54
This special Treveri bottling was added to the lineup to celebrate the winery’s fifth anniversary back in 2015; it proudly displays its salmon-orange color in a clear glass bottle. Made entirely from the oft-forgotten third Champagne variety (Pinot Meunier), this pairs fruit notes of strawberry and blood orange with subtleties of brown bread and wildflowers.
Pairs with: Smoked salmon with crème fraîche.
NV Treveri Cellars Sparkling Gewürztraminer, $17
Signature Gewurz aromas of tropical fruit and a full garden’s worth of flowers come blasting out of the glass, and the palate delivers what the nose promises: sweet mango and papaya fruit, complicated by beautiful inner-mouth perfume. This is off-dry, but again has excellent balancing acidity.
Pairs with: Thai red curry with tofu.
NV Treveri Cellars Sparkling Syrah, $20
Red and bubbly, a combination rarely seen outside Lambrusco, this is a fun and fruity curiosity. Frothy red berries intermingle with cherries and plums, and there is lovely bright acidity to balance a kiss of finishing sweetness.
Pairs with: A spicy pepperoni pizza.
Treveri Cellars also makes the award-winning Block Wines NV Extra Brut Pinot Noir Rose sparkling wine for wine writer Paul Zitarelli’s Full Pull Wines.