Toasting wines > some choices
Here’s a round of stellar wine choices to toast the New Year. The focus is on sparkling wines, ranging from the reigning Champagne champions and standouts to smaller, lesser known growers like Chartogne-Taillet.
Duval-Leroy Brut Champagne NV > A big, full-bodied bubbly, featuring graphite, toast, lemon and nut aromas and flavors. Balanced, with an assertive finish. Will improve with a few months of cellaring. Drink now through 2009. 35,000 cases made.
Charles Heidsieck Brut Champagne Reserve NV > Plenty of graphite and honey flavors mark this well-structured, effusive Champagne. Lemon, dough and vanilla accents are also present. Finishes with a tactile sensation around the gums. Drink now through 2010.
Domaine Carneros Brut Carneros 2003 > Graceful and complex, with fresh cherry, spice and citrus aromas and impeccably balanced and well-structured flavors that emphasize creamy toastiness. The finish fans out and lingers, turning delicate and fleshy. Drink now through 2009. 30,000 cases made.
Moet & Chandon Brut Champagne Blanc 1999 > Fragrant, delivering plenty of toast, butter, vanilla and citrus aromas and flavors, backed by a gossamer frame and a supple mousse. Fine length. Not for the long haul but delicious now. Drink now through 2010.
Taittinger Brut Champagne La Francaise NV > Shows elegance and finesse but also an understated power as the initial richness gives way to the firm structure, setting the stage for biscuit, honey and ginger notes. Fine length. Drink now through 2010.
Bollinger Brut Champagne Special Cuvee NV > Compact and yeasty, this bubbly evokes bread dough and grapefruit flavors backed by verve and a chalky texture. It has a fine mousse and a lingering finish. Drink now through 2010. 20,000 cases imported.
Chartogne-Taillet Blanc de Blancs Champagne NV > Crisp, light and airy, yet with everything in the right proportion. Vibrant and focused, showing ginger, lemon and mineral elements. Perhaps a tad on the sweet side but balanced overall. Drink now.
Gloria Ferrer Brut Sonoma County Sonoma NV > A delicious mouthful of bubbly. Smooth, rich and creamy, revealing layers of black cherry, vanilla and ginger, with a hint of lemon drop. Finishes with a long, refreshing aftertaste of mineral and fruit. Drink now. 93,500 cases made.
Mumm Napa Brut Napa Valley Prestige NV > Enticing vanilla, floral and fresh bread dough aromas. Lean, firm, intense and focused on the palate, with a beam of citrus, apple and pear notes. Cleansing aftertaste. Drink now through 2009. 180,000 cases made.
Lucien Albrecht Brut Blanc de Blancs Cremant d’Alsace NV > A hint of pencil shavings and citrus flavors mark this appealing cremant. Light- to medium-bodied, with good intensity and length. Drink now. 3,000 cases imported.