Sparkling Wine


I suspect that while many readers may find the annual roster of “50 Great Wines” interesting, they don’t necessarily find it essential. Today’s post, however — “30 Great Wine Bargains of 2017” — I hope will be greeted with expectation and gratitude. Who doesn’t love a bargain, especially when the price is attached to a wine that performs above its weight and class? Prices on this list range from about $7 to $20. Twenty-five of these selections rate Excellent, with the next five rated Very Good+, and each one offers a hefty and distinguishing serving of quality. The breakdown by genre is 15 white, 13 red and 2 rosé. By country or state: Italy 7; California 6; France 5; Spain 3; Germany 2; and one each from Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Oregon, Portugal, South African and Washington. Whatever, it’s not the statistics that count but the wine inside the bottle. Many of these models I would recommend for buying by the case to enjoy in the months ahead, in moderation, of course.

These wines were samples for review.
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Alain de la Treille Chinon 2015, Loire Valley, France. 100 percent cabernet franc. Excellent. About $19.

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Armas de Guerra Mencia Rosado 2016, Bierzo, Spain. Rosé of 100 percent mencia grapes. Excellent. About $13.

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Aveleda Vinho Verde 2016, Portugal. 70 percent loureiro grapes, 30 percent alvarinho. Very Good+. About $7-$10.

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Averaen Pinot Noir 2015, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Excellent. About $20.
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Weingut Binz Nackenheimer Pinot Gris Kabinette 2015, Rheinhessen. Excellent. About $14.

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Camino Roca Altxerri 2015, Getariako, Spain. 100 percent hondurrabi zuri grapes. Excellent. About $16.
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Chelsea Goldschmidt Merlot 2015, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County. Excellent. About $19.

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Contrade Negroamaro 2015, Puglia, Italy. Very Good+. About $10.

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Chateau La Freynelle 2015, Bordeaux Blanc. 60 percent sauvignon blanc, 30 percent semillon, 10 percent muscadelle. Very Good+. About $13.
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Maquis Gran Reserva Carménère 2014, Colchagua Valley, Chile. Excellent. About $20.
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Marchesi di Gresy Barbera d’Asti 2015, Piedmont, Italy. Excellent. About $18.

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Masseria Li Veli Verdeca 2015, Valle d’Istria, Apulia, Italy. 90 percent verdeca grapes, 10 percent fiano minutolo. Excellent. About $18.

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Luli Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Arroyo Seco, Monterey County. 504 cases. Excellent. About $18.

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Mercer Estate Sharp Sisters Red Blend 2015. Horse Heaven Hills, Washington. 29 percent cabernet sauvignon, 27 percent syrah, 18 percent merlot, 14 percent petit verdot, 10 percent grenache, 2 percent carignane. Excellent. About $20.
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Mt. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc 2016, North Canterbury, New Zealand. Excellent. About $16.
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Olema Pinot Noir 2014, Sonoma County. Second label of Amici Cellars. Excellent. About $20.

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Olianas Vermentino 2016, Vermentino di Sardegna. Excellent. About $15.

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Paul Durdilly “Les Grandes Coasses” 2016, Beaujolais, France. Excellent. About $15.

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Principe de Viana Garnacha Roble 2015, Navarra, Spain. Very Good+. About $11.
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Renwood Premier Old Vine Zinfandel 2014, Amador County, California. With 6 percent petit sirah, 5 percent barbera, 4 percent syrah. 50-to-103-year-old vines. Excellent. About $20.
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The Royal Old Vines Steen Chenin Blanc 2016, Western Cape, South Africa. Very Good+. About $11.

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Castel Sallegg Gewürztraminer 2015, Südtirol-Alto Adige, Italy. Excellent. About $16.
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Una Seleccion de Ricardo Santos Semillon 2016, Mendoza, Argentina. Excellent. About $16.
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St. Urbans-Hof Nik Seis Wiltinger Alte Reben Riesling 2015, Saar Valley, Germany. Excellent. About $18.
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Tenuta Sant’Antonio Monti Garbi 2014, Valpolicella Superiore Ripassa. Excellent. About $19.
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Serra Lor Rosato 2016, Isola dei Nuraghi, Sardenia. An unusual rosé blend of 50 percent cannonau, 25 percent monica, 20 percent carignano and 5 percent bovale grapes. Excellent. About $15.

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Steele Wines Pinot Blanc 2016, Santa Barbara County, California. Excellent. About $19.
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Chateau Tire Pé “Diem” 2012, Bordeaux. 100 percent merlot, no oak. Excellent. About $12.

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Valley of the Moon Pinot Blanc Viognier White Bland 2015, Sonoma County. 85 percent pinot blanc, 15 percent viognier. Excellent. About $18.
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Vincent Crémant de Bourgogne Brut nv, Burgundy, France. Excellent. About $20.

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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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Established in 1691, Domaine Valentin Zusslin is run now by the 13th generation, brother and sister Marie Zusslin and Jean Paul Zusslin. The 16-hectare estate (about 39 acres) converted to biodynamic principles in 1997 and is certified by Ecocert and Demeter. The Valentin Zusslin Brut Zero Cremant d’Alsace, nv, is a blend of 95 percent auxerrois with dollops of chardonnay and riesling made in the traditional method of aging in the bottle on the lees. It is finished without sulfur or an additional dosage. A very pale straw hue is animated by an exhilarating upward rush of tiny bubbles; this is an incredibly fresh and appealing Cremant d’Alsace, offering notes of spiced pear, lime peel, orange blossom and almond skin in a dry, lithe package powered by bright acidity, scintillating limestone minerality and a bracing saline finish. 12.5 percent alcohol. Loaded with flair, integrity and a sense of authenticity. Excellent. About $25.
Imported by Avant Garde Wine and Spirits, New York. A sample for review.
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Two renditions of brut rosé, one a Champagne that displays lovely style, tone and elegance, the other a well-crafted and delicious Cava from Spain. You pays yer money and you takes yer choice.

These wines were samples for review.
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For four generations, the parents and grandparents of André Jacquart only produced Champagne grapes. In 1958 André introduced a new spirit in the family, producing his own estate-bottled Champagne in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Since 2004, Champagne André Jacquart has been located in the village of Vertus. Major work was undertaken, and the fifth generation, represented by Marie Doyard (the grandchild of André Jacquart) stepped in to run the business and inspire it with her own philosophy. Winemaker is Floriane Eznack. (Champagne André Jacquart should not be confused with Champagne Jacquart, a cooperative founded in 1964 that expanded from 30 to 1,800 growers today and for which Floriane Eznack is also the enologist.)

The Andre Jacquart “Experience” Brut Rosé, nv., is a blend of 80 percent pinot noir, from Premier Cru vineyards, and 20 percent chardonnay, from Grand Cru vineyards; it aged three years in the bottle on the lees. The color is a brilliant blood orange-cerise hue, enlivened by a lively host of winking silver bubbles; exuberant notes of strawberries and raspberries burst from the glass, wreathed with lightly toasted brioche, orange zest and lime peel, though the emotional nature of this initial outpouring quickly tempers itself, via elements of seashell and flint minerality, to spare elegance. This Champagne is quite dry, framed upon bones and stones, yet pleasing in its medium bodied effect on the palate; bright acidity keeps it crisp and dynamic, while delicate touches of citrus and stone-fruit thread through to a satisfying finish. 12 percent alcohol. An absolute winner as an aperitif or with lighter fare at the table. Excellent. About $46.
Imported by Esprit du Vin, Syosset, New York.
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Now here’s a product that delivers a full-throated version of the brut rosé style at a terrific price. The Juvé y Camps Pinot Noir Brut Rosé Cava 100 percent pinot noir, grown in a vineyard where the elevation ranges from 825 to 1,650 feet. It’s made in the traditional method of aging the wine in bottle on the yeast to achieve the necessary effervescence, in this case from 18 months to two years. The color is a lovely blood orange-cerise, and with the silvery bubbles swarming in an upward glinting tempest, just the appearance is almost seductive enough. Aromas of spiced and macerated strawberries and raspberries carry hints of red apple, heather and herbes de Provence, with high notes of jasmine and almond blossom. Pretty heady stuff, all right. This sparkling wine is rich and fairly creamy, but riven by pert acidity, a fairly chiseled limestone element and a sassy touch of candied orange peel. 12 percent alcohol. I call it Excellent and at about $16, a Real Bargain.
Imported by MundoVino, a member of The Winebow Group, New York.
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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).


The Gremillet family has been growing grapes in Champagne since the middle of the 18th Century, only deciding to make their own Champagne starting in 1979, a decision we should all be happy about. The Gremillet Blanc de Noirs, 100 percent pinot noir, is a blend of four or five vintages, including 20 percent reserve wines, that is, older wines held back to lend maturity and house character to a product; it aged 30 months in the bottle on the lees. The color is very pale straw-gold, animated by a fount of tiny bubbles. This one is all smoke, steel and limestone, with notes of acacia and heather, spiced pear and fresh-baked biscuits; lip-smacking acidity cleaves a texture deftly balanced among succulence, tautness and crisp vitality. Spare stone-fruit flavors that contain a bell-tone of red currant are strung on a line of dry chalk and flint minerality, while the finish rounds with a snap of bracing salinity. 12.5 percent alcohol. A charming, elegantly proportioned and thoroughly enjoyable Champagne. Excellent. About $37, representing Great Value.

Esprit du Vin, Syosset, N.Y. A sample for review.

It’s New Year’s Eve, the last day of the year, celebrated in Scotland as Hogmanay. Born on this day were French explorer Jacques Cartier (1491), Bonnie Prince Charles, pretender to the throne (1720), artist Henri Matisse (1879), songwriter and composer Jule Styne (1905), folksinger Odetta, whom I interviewed back in the early 1990s, and boy she had a voice on the telephone that would curl your toes (1930), Ben Kingsley and John Denver (1943), and Donna “Love to Love You Baby” Summer (1948).

Be careful out there tonight. Be safe. Don’t drink and drive. A different year starts tomorrow, and we’ll all be new, better people, n’est-ce pas?
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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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Here’s a first for this series: A sparkling wine from Merrie Olde England.

Digby Fine English was founded by Trevor Clough and Jason Humphries, who operate on the negociant principle of maintaining long-term contracts with trusted growers in the north and south Downs of Kent, Sussex and Hampshire, regions that overlie vast strata of limestone formations. The winery is named in commemoration of Sir Kenelm Digby, a 17th Century English philosopher, theologian, pirate and author who happened, as a sort of sideline, to invent the modern wine bottle. Our product today is the Digby Leander Pink Brut, nv, dubbed in honor of the Leander Club, “the world’s oldest open rowing club” — I don’t actually know what that means — with a portion of the sale of each bottle donated to the Leander Academy, which is, I suppose, where hardy lads learn to row boats. The Digby Leander Pink is a blend of 50 percent pinot noir, 35 percent chardonnay and 15 percent pinot meunier that aged two years in bottle on the lees. The color is very pale coral, and the essential bubbles flow upward in a rush of tiny gold glints; nothing showy here, but spare, delicate and elegant, with aromas of hay and heather, rose petals and strawberries twined with notes of pear and raspberry and a touch of fresh-baked brioche, all quite seamless and shamelessly appealing. Lip-smacking acidity courses o’er the palate, as Tennyson said, forming a vital foundation for limestone and seashell minerality and bracing salinity leading to a sleek, well-hewn finish. 12 percent alcohol. Terrifically charming; we enjoyed this one immensely. Production was 1,666 cases. Excellent. A local purchase, look for prices nationally from $55 to $60.

Vine Street Imports, Mount Laurel, N.J.

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