Chardonnay


Steve Dutton and Dan Goldfield each grew up in families intimately connected through generations to the cultivation of grapes in Sonoma County. They formed a partnership and launched Dutton Goldfield Winery in 1998, with Steve as vineyard manager and Dan as winemaker. Dutton Ranch, a term that appears on their labels, is not one piece of earth but a collection of over 60 non-contiguous parcels in Russian River Valley comprising approximately 1,300 acres of land that they either own, lease or manage. About 1,150 of these acres are planted to grapes, and the other 150 to apples. As we say of certain automobiles, the Dutton Goldfield products are performance wines, immediately gorgeous, dramatically appealing, ambitious and dense with possibility, and delivering immense presence on the palate. Dan Goldfield is not shy with oak, though I thought only one of these examples displayed its barrel influence overtly. Alcohol levels for the wines mentioned in this post are a comfortable and well-poised under-14 percent. Green Valley, at the southwest corner of Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley AVA, is one of Russian River’s coolest sub-AVAs. It was approved as an AVA (American Viticultural Area) in 1983 but altered in 2007 to Green Valley of Russian River Valley to distinguish itself from Green Valley in Solano County.

These wines were samples for review.
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The one of these wines that I did not entirely give my heart to was the Dutton Goldfield Dutton Ranch Chardonnay 2015, Russian River Valley, a chardonnay that was fermented in barrel and went through complete malolactic fermentation; it aged 10 months in French oak, 40 percent new barrels. It’s a bold, ripe, spicy chardonnay that features pineapple and grapefruit scents and flavors lavished with elements of vanilla, creme brulee and toasted coconut; the oak dominates from mid-palate back through the finish, where the saving grace of clean acidity and limestone minerality strive to give the wine balance. 13.8 percent alcohol. This fashion of chardonnay may appeal to some consumers, but not to me. Very Good+. About $38.
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No such quibbles mar the experience of the Dutton Goldfield Dutton Ranch Rued Vineyard Chardonnay 2015, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, made from dry-farmed vines planted in 1969. The wine is barrel-fermented and goes completely through malolactic while aging 15 months in French oak, 50 percent new barrels; it’s bottled unfiltered. The color is a limpid medium gold hue; aromas of slightly macerated and baked pineapple and grapefruit are tinged with preserved lemon and green tea, talc and flint, with a gradual unfolding of acacia and verbena. Pretty heady stuff, all right. It’s ripe and rich, to be sure, but beautifully balanced by rivers of swingeing acidity and bastions of powdery, slightly graphite-driven limestone minerality for exquisite heft and energy; the finish brings in lime peel, lightly spiced pear and flint. 13.8 percent alcohol. Production was 649 cases. Now through 2022 to ’25. Excellent. About $55.
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Aged 16 months in French oak, 55 percent new barrels, the Dutton Goldfield Dutton Ranch Fox Den Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, displays a transparent ruby-mulberry hue. You could eat the bouquet with a spoon: black and red cherries and plums enveloped in lilac and lavender, sandalwood and sassafras, new leather and a hint of loam; a few moments unfurl notes of wood-smoke, cigarette paper and talc. A real beauty, the wine is sleek and lithe on the palate, propelled by throbbing acidity and spice-infused black fruit flavors; it gathers woodsy underbrush elements as the minutes pass and concludes with a fairly high-toned, austere finish. 13.8 percent alcohol. Production was 490 cases. Try from 2019 through 2028. Excellent. About $62.
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“Perfect” is not a word one should toss around blithely, but I’ll unlimber it in the case of the Dutton Goldfield Dutton Ranch Freestone Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Russian River Valley. The wine aged in French oak 16 momths, 55 percent new barrels. The color is a beautiful transparent ruby-magenta shading to an invisible rim; scents of spiced and macerated (and slightly smoky) black cherries and currants feel infiltrated by threads of sassafras, pomegranate and cranberry, with undertones of cool graphite and iodine; a few minutes in the glass unfold hints of sage, cumin and underbrush. Super lithe, supple and satiny in the mouth, this juicy pinot noir develops an essential and almost feral loamy element, as well as touches of tobacco and leather inside its ripe black fruit flavors. Altogether, it’s a remarkable marriage of power and elegance. 13.9 percent alcohol. Production was 317 cases. Drink now through 2023 to 27. Exceptional. About $72.
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Looking for a terrific and inexpensive sparkling wine with which to toast your sweetheart, baby or doppelganger of whatever gender, ethnicity, spiritual orientation or galactic origin for Valentine’s? Why of course you are! Here’s my advice: Find and enjoy a bottle of the Domaine Paul Mas M Côté Mas Blanc de Blancs Brut, from France’s Côteaux du Languedoc appellation. Non-vintage-dated, 100 percent chardonnay and made in the traditional Champagne method, this delightful quaffer offers a hue of palest blond and an attractively clean and fresh character enlivened by a fount by energetic bubbles; hints of pear and spiced peach open to notes of lime peel and almond skin. The whole sleek package is taut and crisp, light and delicate, with an elegant tide of limestone minerality that finishes with fragile seashell salinity. 12 percent alcohol. Very Good+. Impressive for its detail and dimension, and no one will know that it only cost $16.

Imported by Esprit du Vin, Boca Raton, Fla. A sample for review.

Long mysterious to European explorers of the 16th and 17th centuries, the region known as Patagonia, forming the southernmost geography of South America, is shared by Argentina, about 90 percent, and Chile, the remaining 10 percent. The Argentine side is characterized by an immense series of steppes that gradually ascend in elevation, the landmass cut by several powerful rivers. Even today, Patagonia’s northern boundary remains rather ambiguous. One of those waterways is the Rio Negro, in the Upper Valley of which we find Aniello, the winery that produced today’s featured wine. It’s the Aniello 006 Riverside Estate Chardonnay 2017, designated Patagonia. The wine sees only neutral French oak and a tiny bit — 7 percent — malolactic fermentation. The result is a bright medium gold chardonnay that bursts with fresh, spicy allure and attractive scents and flavors of slightly roasted pineapple and grapefruit; notes of green apple, mango and quince linger on the palate, highlighted by touches of cloves and damp gravel in a texture that’s talc-like and almost dense, all these elements animated by crisp, brisk acidity and a burgeoning limestone quality. 13 percent alcohol. Pure pleasure that you could sell the hell out of in restaurant and bar by-the-glass programs. Now through 2020. Very Good+. About $17, representing Good Value.

Global Vineyard Imports, Berkeley, Calif. A sample for review.

Tupungato is the northern-most area of the Uco Valley, itself a sub-region of Argentina’s well-known Mendoza appellation. Vineyards here, lying in the foothills of the immense Tupungato volcano, average 4,200 feet above sea-level. Located in the volcano’s rain shadow, this grape-growing area is arid and chilly, especially at night, when the diurnal swing extends its reach. The soil is stony, alluvial and well-drained. Drip irrigation is employed in most vineyards, drawing on pure Andean water sources.

Our pair of wines today comes from Domaine Bousquet, owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Anne Bousquet and Labid Al Ameri. Anne Bousquet’s father, Jean, sold all his property, including the family winery near Carcassonne, in order to buy, in 1998, against prevailing wisdom, about 1,000 acres in the desolate region. Domaine Bousquet is farmed on sustainable and organic principles, a philosophy that extends to the surrounding infrastructure of access roads, housing for workers, micro-loans for education and other benefits.

These wines were samples for review.
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The Domaine Bousquet Gaia Tupungato White Blend 2016, Mendoza, is a combination of 50 percent chardonnay, 35 percent pinot gris and 15 percent sauvignon blanc; 40 percent of the wine aged six months in French oak barrels. The color is medium yellow-gold; winsome aromas of pear and quince, with notes of bee’s-wax and peach, heather and hawthorn draw you in, while a sleek, silky texture is animated by bright acidity and a crystalline element of limestone minerality; the wine is quite dry yet emboldened by a certain honeyed aspect that encompasses lightly caramelized mango and grapefruit. The finish brings in delicate herbal and saline qualities. 12.5 percent alcohol. A lovely effort, for drinking through 2020. Excellent. About $18, representing Good Value.
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The blend of the dark ruby-hued Domaine Bousquet Gaia Tupungato Red Blend 2015, Mendoza, is 50 percent malbec, 45 percent syran and five percent cabernet sauvignon; the wine aged 10 months in French oak barrels. It’s a robust and rustic red wine, perfectly suited to lamb, pork and goat roasted over open fires — or a bacon cheeseburger from your favorite dining spot. Notes of black and red currants and plums are infused with forest and underbrush, leather and loam and dusty graphite, opening to hints of bell pepper and cedar; stalwart yet velvety tannins are permeated by a chiseled granitic element, though the wine’s texture is soft, flowing and appealing; lip-smacking acidity keeps it lively and vibrant on the palate. 14 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2020. Very Good+. About $20.
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For the first Wine of the Day of 2018, let’s look at the Morgan Winery Metallico Unoaked Chardonnay 2015, from Monterey County. Don’t let anyone tell you that a wine must go through a stint in oak barrels to achieve complexity and a layered quality. The Morgan Metallico ’15 spent five months in stainless steel tanks and did not go through malolactic fermentation, yet it delivers a piece of detail and dimension that wines aged in oak might envy. The color is bright medium straw-gold; heady aromas of spiced pears and roasted lemons unfurl notes of mango and lime peel, quince and candied ginger, while a few minutes in the glass bring in hints of lemon balm and heather. Sprightly acidity keeps this wine lively and engaging, and its lithe and supple texture cuts a swath on the palate; citrus and yellow stone-fruit flavors are smoky, ripe and slightly feral, and the finish is a suave emanation of glittering limestone minerality. Yep, it’s delicious. 13.5 percent alcohol. Winemaker was Sam Smith. No, not that Sam Smith, the other one. Excellent. About $22.

A sample for review.

So here we are, friends, the last post in the 11th edition of “12 Days of Christmas with Champagne and Sparkling Wine.” It’s Twelfth Night, traditionally a time of revels and misadventure, though of course I devoutly hope that no misadventure befalls you. Tomorrow is the Feast of the Epiphany, a word that means “made manifest” but which we nowadays think of as implying some sort of revelation, as in “When I was watching ‘The Big Sick’ last night I had an epiphany about the meaning of life.” Well, in any case, good luck with that. Today I offer four sparkling wines, an actual and true Champagne and examples from Bordeaux, South Africa and Oregon’s Willamette Valley. I hope, as always, that this series is entertaining and educational, and I wish you all a Happy New Year and prosperous 2018. Peace and love will triumph yet. Maybe.

These products were samples for review.
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Crémant de Bordeaux must be one of the least known products of that august region. A good introduction to this genre is the Celene Brut, nv, Crémant de Bordeaux, a blend of 50 percent semillon, 30 percent muscadelle and 20 percent cabernet franc, made in the traditional method of aging in the bottle on the lees. It’s very clean, fresh and crisp, displaying a pale blonde hue and an excellent array of tiny bubbles; it’s all lemon and limestone with a trace of peach and grapefruit, quite delicate and charming in its plangent effervescence, very dry in its chalk-flinty minerality, a bit austere and high-toned on the finish. 12 percent alcohol. Perfectly appropriate for sipping while cooking dinner or watching the “News Hour” on PBS. Very Good+. About $16.
Imported by Superb Wines International, Pensacola, Fla.
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The Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut 2015, Western Cape, South Africa, is a blend of 48 percent chardonnay, 49 percent pinot noir and 3 percent pinot meunier; information about time aging in bottle (en tirage) was not available. The color is pale gold with tarnished silver highlights enlivened by myriad tiny glinting bubbles; notes of green apples and roasted lemon unfold to spiced pear and flint; a sort of seashell brininess frames the palate with pert limestone minerality, while crisp acidity adds verve and drive, leading to a citrus and stone-fruit finish. 12.6 percent alcohol. Lots of charm. Very Good+, edging close to Excellent. About $25.
Imported by Quintessential, Napa, Calif. The vintage date on the label image is one year behind.
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Champagne Gremillet Brut, nv, is a blend of 70 percent pinot noir and 30 percent chardonnay, derived from four or five vintages and using 20 percent reserve wines; it aged 22 months in the bottle on the lees. It’s as pale platinum blond as Jean Harlow’s hair, with effervescent both notable and refined; this is all smoke and steel, an elegant and fine-boned Champagne that unfurls hints of pear and quince, acacia and heather and a chiseled line of flint-and-chalk minerality; it’s crisp and vibrant, exhibiting high-toned nerve and presence on the palate, and a sleek, glacial finish. It’s the refreshing and bracing Champagne you take a glass of before meeting your opponent on the dueling ground at dawn. 12.5 percent alcohol. Excellent. About $40.
Imported by Esprit du Vin, Syosset, N.Y.
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Gran Moraine Brut Rosé, nv, Yamhill-Carlton District, comes from a Jackson Family Wines property in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. It’s a blend of 53 percent chardonnay and 47 percent pinot noir, aged in bottle on the lees for two years. It displays a very pale coral-salmon hue and a dynamic array of tiny bubbles; notes of orange zest and lime peel are woven with hints of macerated raspberries and touches of red currant and almond skin. It’s dry, crisp and lively on the palate, offering the energy of acid and a scintillating limestone element, yet overall embodies elegance and delicacy. It is, in fact, delightful. 12.5 percent alcohol. Excellent. About $50.
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The prices of these 50 Great Wines of 2017 range from an unprecedented $15 to a whopping $250. Not that I expect My Readers to hasten out and snatch up a bottle of wine that costs $250, but when an extraordinary wine crosses my horizon and I rate it “Exceptional,” well, it goes on this list no matter the price. That’s one of the criteria for this annual roster: Every wine I rated Exceptional in 2017 is included automatically, followed by wines I rated Excellent and that I go back through the reviews and parse very carefully. Now I’m sure My Readers understand that by “50 Great Wines” I’m not saying that these are the 50 greatest wines in the world, just that they’re great wines — as I interpret greatness — that I tasted during the year in question. What makes a wine great? Purity, intensity, integrity, authenticity, as well as a sense of individuality and, if possible, a connection to a region or, in more rarefied examples, to a vineyard. Not all wines, even great ones, display this spectrum of virtues completely; winemaking is too intuitive a craft to allow for cookie-cutter sameness. Often, it’s the differences among wines from vintage to vintage that make them intriguing and exciting. I hope the wines listed here pique your interest and that you have a chance to try some of them. Many of them are entrancing and beautiful, and we could all stand a little enchantment and beauty in our lives.
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Alois Lageder “Porer” Pinot Grigio 2015, Alto Adige, Italy. Excellent. About $25.
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Bonny Doon Vineyard Old Telegram 2014, Contra Costa County. 100 percent mourvedre. 277 cases. Excellent. About $45.
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Brooks Wine “Janus” Pinot Noir 2014, Willamette Valley. Exceptional. About $38.

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Capofaro Didyme Malvasia 2016, Salina, Sicily. Excellent. About $25.

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Davis Bynum Jane’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014, Russian River Valley. Excellent. About $35.
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Duckhorn Three Palms Vineyard Merlot 2014, Napa Valley. Exceptional. About $98.

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Champagne Egly-Ouriet Grand Cru Brut Tradition nv, Champagne, France. 70 percent pinot noir, 30 percent chardonnay. Excellent. About $68.

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Ehlers Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2016, St. Helena, Napa Valley. Exceptional. About $32.

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Enzo Bianchi Red Wine 2012, San Rafael, Mendoza, Argentina. 75 percent cabernet sauvignon, 10 percent cabernet franc, 8 percent petit verdot, 7 percent malbec. Excellent. About $55.

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Esporão Private Selection 2011, Garrafeira, Alentjo, Portugal. 40 percent each aragonez and alicante boschet, 20 percent syrah. Excellent. About $65.
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Fathers & Daughters Ella’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2014, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County. 110 cases. Exceptional. About $42.
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Gamble Family Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Yountville, Napa Valley. Exceptional. About $25.

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Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Rosé of Pinot Noir 2016, Russian River Valley. 393 cases. Excellent. About $32.

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Ghost Hill Cellars Bayliss-Bower Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014, Yamhill-Carlton district, Willamette Valley. Exceptional. About $42.

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Grgich Hills Estate 40th Anniversary Chardonnay 2014, Napa Valley. Exceptional. About $50.

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Grgich Hills Estate Miljenko’s Selection “Essence” Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Napa Valley. 646 cases. Exceptional. About $55.
The label vintage date is one year behind.
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Grgich Hills Estate Paris Tasting Commemorative Chardonnay 2014, Napa Valley. 942 cases. Exceptional. About $94.

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Heitlinger Tiefenbacher Schellenbrunnen Trocken Riesling 2014, Baden, Germany. Exceptional. About $30.

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Inman Family Endless Crush Rosé of Pinot Noir 2016, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County. 672 cases. Exceptional. About $35.
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Iron Horse Chinese Cuvée 2012, Green Valley of Russian River Valley. A brut rosé, 76 percent pinot noir 24 percent chardonnay. 300 cases. Excellent. About $65.
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Domaine Jessiaume Les Cent Vignes Beaune Premier Cru 2014, Beaune, Burgundy. 300 cases. Excellent. About $45.

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Jordan Vineyards Chardonnay 2015, Russian River Valley. Excellent. About $32.

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Cantina Kaltern Pfarrhof “Kalterersee” Classico Superiore 2015, Südtirol-Alto Adige, Italy. 95 percent schiava. 5 percent lagrein. Excellent. About $24.
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Dr. Konstantin Frank Gewurztraminer 2015, Finger Lakes, New York. Exceptional. About $15.
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Chateau Lagrezette Le Pigeonnier 2011, Cahors, France. 100 percent malbec. 1,070 six-bottle cases. Exceptional. About $250.
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La Jota Vineyard Co. Howell Mountain Merlot 2014, Napa Valley. Exceptional. About $85.

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Lioco “Sativa” Carignan 2014, Mendocino. 650 cases. Excellent. About $30.
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Louis Picamelot Cuvée Jean Baptiste Chautard 2012, Crémant de Bourgogne. 77 percent chardonnay, 23 percent aligote. Excellent. About $38.
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Domaine Marc Roy Les Champs Perdrix 2015, Marsannay, Burgundy. 100 percent chardonnay. 175 cases. Excellent. About $50.
The vintage date on the label image is one year behind.
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Mayacamas Vineyards The Terraces Special Bottling Chardonnay 2013, Napa Valley. Exceptional. About $95.
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Chateau Montelena “The Montelena Estate” Cabernet Sauvigono 2013, Calistoga, Napa Valley. Exceptional. About $160.

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Morgan Winery Tondre Grapefield Pinot Noir 2014, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County. 45 cases. Exceptional. About $60.
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Onward Wines Capp-Inn Vineyard Skin-Fermented Malvasia Bianca 2015, Suisun Valley, Solano County. Exceptional. About $28.
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Paul Blanck Scholssberg Grand Cru Riesling 2012, Alsace. Excellent. About $34.
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Penner Ash Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Yamhill-Carlton District, Willamette Valley. 915 cases. Exceptional. About $65.

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Chateau Peybonhomme-les-Tours “Le Blanc Bonhomme” 2016, Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux. 50 percent each sauvignon blanc and semillon. Excellent. About $22.

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Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc 2014, Oakville District, Napa Valley. Excellent. About $40.
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Sidebar Kerner 2016, Mokelumne River, Lodi. 193 cases. Excellent. About $25.

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Siduri Wines Pinot Noir 2015, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County. Excellent. About $35.

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Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley. With 12 percent cabernet franc and 6 percent merlot. Excellent. About $50.
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Smith-Madrone Riesling 2014, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley. 1,551 cases. Exceptional. About $30.
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Stewart Cellars Beckstoffer Las Piedes Vineyard “Nomad” Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley. 180 cases. Exceptional. About $175.
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Stony Hill Chardonnay 2014, Napa Valley. Excellent. About $48.

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Tongue Dancer Wines “Pinot de Ville” Pinot Noir 2015, Sonoma Coast. 125 cases. Excellent. About $65.

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Troon Kubli Bench Blanc 2016, Applegate Valley, Oregon. 55 percent marsanne, 45 percent viognier. 180 cases. Excellent. About $25.
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Domaine Weinbach Grand Cru Schlossberg Riesling 2013, Alsace. Exceptional. About $40.
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Yount Ridge Cellars Epic Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley. Exceptional. About $250.

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Yount Ridge Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Napa Valley. 160 cases. Exceptional. About $35.

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ZD Winery Founder’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2013, Carneos. 800 cases. Exceptional. About $75.
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Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris 2014, Alsace. Excellent. About $26.

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Pricing is power, but sometimes producers get ahead of themselves in terms of ambitious tariffs. These examples today illustrate how makers of sparkling wine in the Charmat process of second fermentation in tank, rather than in the individual bottle, as in Champagne and other regions, over-reached and did a disservice to consumers.

These wines were samples for review.
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Le Grand Courtage sparkling wines are made in Nuits-Saint-Georges in Burgundy but have nothing to do with that great appellation and its 27 Premier Cru vineyards. Le Grand Courtage “Grand Cuvée” Blanc de Blancs, nv, for example, is a blend of chardonnay, ugni blanc, colombard and chenin blanc; of that quartet of grapes, only chardonnay is permitted in Burgundy, which is why the Grand Courtage wines — there’s also a brut rosé — carry the broadest possible designation: France. Nothing in the material associated with the products indicates the fashion of production, so I assume that the mode is Charmat rather than méthode traditionelle, and there’s not a thing wrong with that, depending on the quality and the price. This blanc de blancs offers a very pale straw-gold hue and a satisfying, steady tide of bubbles; there’s green apple and lime peel and hints of cinnamon toast and limestone in the nose with sprightly acidity and a slightly steely/flint element for structure, all rounded by diminishing notes of roasted lemon and pear. 11.5 percent alcohol. Innocuous and tasty and appropriate for large parties and receptions. Very Good. About $18, a price that bothers me; it would be more fairly priced at about $15 or less.
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Sterling Vineyards has released what is called its first sparkling wines, though in 2016 I was sent a Sterling Vineyards Brut 2012, Carneros, that I rated Excellent (about $50); perhaps that product was so anomalous that everyone concerned forgot about it. Anyway, the samples in question here are the Sterling Sparkling Rosé 2016, California, and the Sterling Blanc de Blancs 2016, Napa Valley. The first is a blend of 70 percent chardonnay and 30 percent pinot noir, the second is 100 percent chardonnay. These are made in the Charmat process of second fermentation in tanks instead of in bottle. Both are very enjoyable and engaging sparklers. The Rose offers a pretty salmon-coral color, with notes of raspberry and blood orange, apple blossom and almond skin, with a background of lime peel and grapefruit, all jazzed by bright acidity. The Blanc de Blancs is a very pale platinum blonde hue, with hints of smoke and steel, spiced pear and almond skin, quite crisp and lively and close to elegant. So, these are pleasant and attractively packaged sparkling wines that feel good to sip while preparing dinner, and I’m happy to rate them Very Good+. The problem is that the suggested retail price is $28, and if you understand anything about the world of sparkling wine, then you know that you can buy what are among the best of Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant d’Alsace and Crémant de Loire or many of the fine sparkling wines from California for the same price or often much less, and I mean models made in the méthode champenoise. I think Sterling overpriced itself here.
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We drank the Laurent-Perrier Brut Millesime 2007 for New Year’s Eve, along with paper-thin slices of pepper-and-cognac-cured gravlox that I started on Saturday. What one wants from a vintage Champagne is a certain tone, style and sense of elevation and elegance befitting its provenance and price, and the Laurent-Perrier Brut Millesime 2007 delivers. This is 50 percent each chardonnay and pinot noir, aged seven years in the bottle on the lees. The grapes derive totally from Grand Cru vineyards. The color is brilliant medium gold with slight rose-gold highlights; bubbles are abundant, shimmering and glinting in their upward rush. The first impression is of roasted lemons and spiced pears, woven with quince and crystallized ginger and undertones of heather and acacia, lime peel and flint; full-bodied on the palate, yet spare and lithe, this Champagne displays the verve and momentum of a thoroughbred, balancing bracing acidity and scintillating limestone minerality; a few minutes in the glass bring in hints of salted toffee, lightly buttered cinnamon toast and (almost paradoxically) a touch of mango, all elements managed with a deft and delicate hand. 12 percent alcohol. Wholly satisfying and exhilarating. Excellent. About $80.

Imported by Laurent-Perrier USA. A sample for review.

It’s New Year’s Day, of course, and the anniversary of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. Born on this day were Paul Revere (1735), Betsy Ross (1752), Arthur Hugh Clough, poet and friend of Matthew Arnold (1819), the photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864), English novelist E.M. Forster (1879), J. Edgar Hoover (1895), and J.D. Salinger (1919).

Let’s think about New Year’s Eve and what kind of bubbly you might want to serve. Your choice will be dictated by the number of people crowding into your house, apartment, mobile home or tent and how much money you want to spend.

These products were samples for review.
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For example, if you’re throwing an event for multitudes, including the people who got lost looking for a different party, your focus is on pleasant quaffability and low cost. In addition to which, you may be using plastic tumblers instead of actual glasses, so let’s not waste the effort and fiduciary prowess on something more expensive. You can’t go wrong with the Martini Rosé Extra Dry Sparkling Wine, yes, from the Martini & Rossi company — “Say, Yes!” — an unusual blend of riesling, chardonnay, glera (the grape of Prosecco) and nebbiolo. This is made in the Charmat process that produces the necessary effervescence in tanks rather than in the bottle. Whatever! The color is an attractive salmon-coral-pink and the overall impression is of rose petals and violets, slightly macerated raspberries permeated by pears and blood orange, and a soft but lively texture animated by crisp acidity. 11.5 percent alcohol. Drink up! Very Good. About $13.
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Say, however, that your gathering will encompass some 20 to 30 people. Turn then to the McBride Sisters Collection Brut Rose, nv, from New Zealand’s Marlborough region. A blend of 90 percent pinot noir and 10 percent chardonnay, from vineyards farmed by sustainable practices, this charming sparkler, made in the traditional Champagne method, offers a pale salmon-copper hue and a steady stream of tiny bubbles; notes of raspberry and heather unfold to touches of almond blossom and orange zest, while on the palate chiseled limestone minerality bolsters chiming acidity for vitality and freshness; while the entry hints at sweetness, the finish is bone-dry and bracing. 13 percent alcohol. Very Good+. About $20.
Imported by Pacific Highway Wine and Spirits, Sonoma, Calif.
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O.K, let’s shrink your New Year’s Eve occasion to a dinner party for six or eight close friends. Let’s go for the Barone Pizzini “Animante” Franciacorta Brut, from the region devoted to sparkling wine in Lombardy. It’s a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot blanc that ages anywhere from 18 to 30 months in bottle. The color is very pale straw-gold, enlivened by a surging spiral of tiny silver bubbles; this is dry, spare and high-toned, with notes of spiced pear and roasted lemon, touches of quince, ginger and summer flowers, bound by chiming acidity and a keen edge of limestone and chalk minerality. 12 percent alcohol. A delightful sparkling wine with a slightly serious edge, suitable as aperitif and at table. Excellent. About $36.
A Leonardo Locascio Selection, The Winebow Group, New York.
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On the other hand, your New Year’s Eve fete may involve only you and another person — a small dinner, music, candle-light, romance personified. This tete a tete requires a Champagne of utter delicacy and elegance, for which I nominate the Champagne Boizel Blanc de Blancs Brut, nv, made completely from Premier and Grand Cru chardonnay grapes (including 40 percent reserve wines) aged four years in bottle on the lees. The color is the palest blond, the myriad bubbles active, incisive and precisely delineated; notes of acacia and hay, lemon balm and lime peel are wreathed with toasted hazelnuts and almond skin and lightly buttered and toasted brioche; elegant and delicate, yes, but driven by the tensile strength of bright acidity and scintillating limestone minerality, all culminating in an etched and transparent finish. 12 percent alcohol. Seductive and stimulating. Excellent. About $60.
Palm Bay Imports, Boca Raton, Fla.
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