Stock up on sparkling wines for Christmas holidays

Posted On December 9, 2006

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There is not as much time to buy sparkling wines for the Christmas holidays as you might think. Delay no longer. The time is now, dear readers, to stock up on sparkling wines.

Remember to open sparkling wine bottles with caution. Never shake the bottle before uncorking, and never point the bottle towards another person. After removing the wire retainer at the top of the bottle, just slowly ease the cork out of the bottle to avoid wasting wine and to prevent accidents.

The following sparklers are excellent > 
N.V. Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut, Spain >
The distinctive jet-black bottle of this simple, but well-made Spanish “cava” is easily recognizable especially in the large 1.5 liter bottle. The wine delivers enjoyable and refreshing sparkling wine at a great price with aromas of apples with spicy hints leading to flavors of apples and ripe tropical fruit with a clean, yet fruity finish. 

N.V. Zardetto Prosecco Brut, Italy > In northeastern Italy, the preference is for light, well-balanced sparklers with a clean, dry finish. This wine delivers nicely with simple but refreshing and well-balanced citrus aromas and flavors. 

1997 Gloria Ferrer Royal Cuvée Brut, Carneros, California > This excellent Chairman’s Selection is also a superb value on a wine made in the classic méthode champenoise from grapes ripened in a very fine vintage. The wine enjoyed an extended journey of seven years on the yeasts prior to final bottling to create a lovely golden color with robust, fruity aromas and toasty hints. The complex and rich flavors of ripe berries, cherries, apples and pears meld well with the creamy texture. The soft, well-balanced finish lingers pleasantly with a blend of fruitiness and toasty nuances. 

N.V. Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut, Anderson Valley, California > This non-vintage bubbly is always one of the most consistently well-made California sparkling wines. Benefiting from the expertise of the French firm of Louis Roederer, maker of renown Cristal Champagne and who assigns French native Arnaud Weyrich as the winemaker in California, this wine has complex, elegant aromas leading to crisp citrus and rich earthy flavors well-balanced by fine acidity through a complex, dry finish with excellent finesse. 

2002 Shramsberg Blanc de Blancs, Napa Valley, California > “Blanc de Blancs” means white wine made from white skinned grapes, in this case, chardonnay. Talented winemaker Hugh Davies crafts the wine with plenty of frothy elegance and aromas of fresh citrus with yeasty nuances. Ripe citrus and pear flavors layered in a rich, creamy texture are well-balanced through a fruity, yet dry and stylish finish. 

2000 Iron Horse Vineyards Russian Cuvée, Sonoma County and Green Valley, California > This classic blend of 60 percent pinot noir and 40 percent chardonnay was aged four years on the yeast to add extra elegance and refinement. The lovely, light straw color with persistent bubbles has pleasant aromas of citrus and apples with yeasty nuances opening to lively, frothy flavors of citrus and apples through a soft and round, but elegant finish. For a fun and stylish treat, enjoy this well-balanced sparkler in classic flute glasses with a few red pomegranate seeds bobbing in the bubbly. 

N.V. Piper Heidsieck Cuvée Brut Champagne, France > The dark straw color with persistent beads of bubbles offers a classic nose of citrus with yeasty notes followed by rich, elegant flavors of citrus and apples. The lively, frothy texture carries through the creamy, elegant, dry finish with refreshing citrus notes. 

N.V. Phillipe Gonet Rosé Brut Champagne “Le Mensil” Premier Cru, France > Admit it. We are all suckers for the lovely salmon color and fruity refreshment of true rosé Champagnes. This seductive and satisfying wine has wonderful fruity aromas of berries with yeasty nuances. The lively, expressive cherry and citrus flavors with notes of biscuits are layered in a creamy, but well-balanced texture through an elegant, complex dry finish with plenty depth and frothiness. 

Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir Vin de Pays d’Oc, France > This simple, yet satisfying little number illustrates a rather amazing and fascinating development in the world of wine: a California winery using juice from pinot noir grapes grown in the south of France to create an easy drinking, everyday wine for American drinkers. The wine has dark plum and berry aromas opening to lush, fruity berry flavors with a hint of chocolate, good acidity, and soft tannins in good balance. Try it with old-fashioned pot roast. 

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