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Sparkling Wines for New Year’s Eve 2011

by Sally Bernstein

It is that time of the year again. Time to choose sparkling wines for your holiday parties. Sparkling wine sales peak in the month of December. You'll see a variety of prices, from a very few dollars at your grocery store to very high end bottles, ranging into the hundreds of dollars. And remember, sparkling wine must be made in the Champagne region of France to actually be called Champagne. Those bubbly wines bottled elsewhere will be called sparkling wines. Master of Wine Jancis Robinson recommends white sparkling wines be served at 43 degrees to 50 degrees.

The following list is by no means complete. It touches on wines from California and includes some wines that just surfaced this year and some new vintages. Think white and rosé. Whatever you decide to drink, enjoy yourself and drink responsibly, that means pick a designated driver or call a cab.

Happy Holidays!



Schramsberg Vineyards - America's House of Sparkling Wine

Located in Calistoga in the Napa Valley, Schramsberg offers many sparkling wines and "Winery Only Wines" such as Davies Vineyards Pinot Noir, Ferrington Vineyards, Davies Vineyards Pinot Noir, Londer Vineyard, and Davies Vineyards Pinot Noir, Nobles Vineyard. Holiday Bottle Sets, Wine Clubs, and Camp Schramsberg are just a few of the exciting things going on at Schramsberg through the year. Below find three of their most popular offerings:



Blanc de Blancs (white from white) is made from Chardonnay and is dry and crisp. Blanc de Blancs was the first wine Schramsberg produced in 1965 and was America’s first commercially produced Chardonnay-based brut sparkling wine. While this wine can be enjoyed by itself as an apéritif, it is also perfect with fresh oysters and other shellfish, crab cakes, ceviche and grilled sea bass. It is also delicious with lemon chicken and Thai curries. Serve with aged Gouda or other hard cheeses, and as a counterpoint to soft triple creams. Fruitful aromas of fresh lime and Granny Smith apple, accentuated by nuances of juicy pineapple and lemon grass, are complimented by notes of honeycomb and hazelnut from the years of aging en tirage.

Suggested Retail: $36



Blanc de Noirs (white from black) is the counterpart to Blanc de Blancs (white from white). Made primarily from the red grape Pinot Noir, this is a complex, medium-bodied, brut sparkling wine. Schramsberg pioneered the Blanc de Noirs style in the United States, releasing the first such American sparkler in 1967. Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs is particularly well-suited to serve with a variety of foods, including soft and nutty cheeses, macadamia nut-crusted halibut, and pork tenderloin with fresh rosemary and lemon thyme. The 2007 Blanc de Noirs has lively aromas of guava and fresh peach that lead way to subtle aromas reminiscent of a briar berry patch. The fruitful nose is complemented by warm almond and salted toffee. The palate is generous and bursting with flavors of Rainier cherry and fresh watermelon, followed by baked orange and fresh sourdough bread.

Suggested Retail: $38



Schramsberg Crémant Demi-Sec is a delicate, off-dry sparkling wine: an American original. Crémant is French for “creamy” and traditionally refers to a wine with light effervescence. It has approximately half the pressure of our other sparkling wines and presents a creamier texture with more exotic flavors. Schramsberg made California’s first Crémant in 1972. After rigorous study, Jack and Jamie Davies chose a unique California grape named Flora (a cross of Sémillon and Gewürztraminer developed at UC Davis) to be the core component of this sparkling wine. The sweetness in Crémant is subtle, providing a fine balance with desserts, such as fruit tarts, poached fruits, light cakes, custards, exotic sorbets, gingerbread, and crème brûlée. It also compliments a wide range of spicy Asian foods, blue cheeses, and matches especially well with foie gras. The 2007 Cremant has bursting tropical aromas of mango, pineapple and papaya, followed by sweet citrus. In addition to the fresh fruit aromas, there is a richness of straight from the oven rhubarb pie. The palate is viscous on entry, with flavors of peach cobbler, pineapple, lemon cream, and just a hint of vanilla.

Suggested Retail: $38

Biltmore Estate

The Biltmore Winery is located in Asheville, North Carolina, home of the Biltmore Estate, built by founder George Vanderbilt in 1895. The property on which the winery sits was once the Biltmore Dairy, a business that helped support the Biltmore during the Great Depression and both World Wars. The changeover began in 1971. The Biltmore Winery offers free tours and the chance to sample their numerous wines, including sparkling wines, robust reds, refreshing rosés, and crisp whites. The winery produces 2 million bottles of wine annually and their grapes are sourced from North Carolina, other southern states and the west coast. Below are two of their popular champagnes.


Biltmore Estate® Château Reserve Blanc de Blancs - 2008 North Carolina

Their finest sparkling wine is crafted from 100% North Carolina Chardonnay grapes and features tiny bubbles. This golden wine bursts forth with tropical and citrus flavors.The wine ages 12-16 months before disgorging and is golden yellow in color. It pairs well with tilapia, oysters, shrimp, lobster, caviar, aperitif, and fresh fruit.

Suggested Retail: $35




Biltmore Estate® Blanc de Blancs

This Methode Champenoise wine has good acidity and balance which are complemented by hints of lemon, apple, and pear. The color is pale straw/yellow and is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes from the California Russian River Valley. The wine ages 18-24 months before disgorging and pairs well with oysters, Brie cheese, aperitif, sushi, crab cakes, Thai cuisine, crawfish étouffée, and olives.

Suggested Retail: $24.99







All KORBEL champagnes are made according to the traditional méthode champenoise technique, where the champagne is fermented inside the same bottle from which it is served. This time-honored process takes almost a year to complete. But the results are worth the wait. The taste of the méthode champenoise style is famous for its delicate nuances along with producing the countless streams of dazzling bubbles in every glass of KORBEL California Champagne. Made in Guerneville, California in Sonoma County.


2009 Korbel California Brut

2009 Korbel California Brut, made with organically grown grapes, provides compelling evidence that luxurious and earth-friendly are not mutually exclusive. The third release of this groundbreaking California sparkler, this delicious champagne showcases classic character and crisp, elegant style.

Suggested Retail: $15.99




2009 Korbel Russian River Valley Natural

2009 Korbel Russian River Valley Natural - Exceptionally dry and delicate, the 2009 Korbel Natural is California champagne at its distinctive, delicious best. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes from estate vineyards in the cool Russian River Valley give Korbel Natural elegant green apple, citrus, red cherry and raspberry fruit character and a great depth of flavor. Traditional méthode champenoise and carefully calibrated dosage allow the fruit crispness and lively effervescence full expression. The Natural has been served at the past seven Presidential Inaugurations.

Suggested Retail: $15.99


Korbel California Sweet Rosé

Korbel Sweet Rosé is made from a complex selection of both red and white grape varieties. The blend is designed to have very bright fruit flavors and aromas. The harvesting of the red varieties such as Zinfandel and Sangiovese early in the ripening process helps achieve the desired style for this cuvée.

Suggested Retail: $12.99



Korbel California Brut

One of America's favorite bottle-fermented California champagne, Korbel Brut is light-tasting and crisp with a 1% dosage for a balanced medium-dry finish. This wine is light-tasting and crisp with a 1% dosage for a balanced medium-dry finish. It is excellent with chicken, seafood dishes, or Asian foods. It is also a wonderful choice with fruit and mild cheese.

Suggested Retail: $12.99





Extra Dry Sparkling Wine

NEW! Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Extra Dry for those who enjoy their sparkling wine with a light touch of sweetness. Woodbridge Extra Dry Sparkling offers aromas of crisp orchard fruit and honeysuckle. Bright acidity and delicate bubbles make Extra Dry an excellent choice for a wide array of foods. This sparkler offers the taste of crisp Golden Delicious apple, fresh pear, and honeysuckle. On the palate, bright acidity balances the slightly sweet flavors, reminiscent of a flesh-baked lemon tart. Extremely versatile and food-friendly, this Woodbridge pairs well with Asian appetizers, creamy cheeses, spicy dishes like Thai curry, or custard desserts such as panna cotta with fresh berries. Serve well-chilled.

Suggested Retail: $9.99



Brut Sparkling Wine

Robert Mondavi believed that great wine was not just for special occasions. Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Brut is the perfect sparkling wine for celebrating the joy of everyday. Fresh citrus aromas are accented by soft, creamy yeast characters. Flavors of green apple and lemon cream linger along with the bubbles on the palate. Pairs well with: Pan-Seared Scallops with Orange-Lime Vinaigrette, Smoked Salmon Omelet, Easier Fried Chicken, Garlicky Scallops with Bread Crumbs, Small Potatoes Stuffed with Bacon and Cheese, Shrimp Tempura and Baked Brie en Croute. Serve well-chilled.

Suggested Retail: $9.99



Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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