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Sparkling Wines for New Year’s Eve 2009

by Sally Bernstein

Whether your tastes turn towards champagne, sparkling wine, cava (Spanish sparkling wine), prosecco (Italian dry sparkling wine), espumante (Portuguese sparkling wine), Cap Classique (South African sparkling wines) or many others, you have a multitude of choices this year, in both style and price. Many of these wines are available in varying levels of dryness: brut nature, brut (extra dry), seco (dry), semiseco (medium) and dulce (sweet). And many of these wines are exceedingly food-friendly and can be enjoyed throughout your entire meal. So let your tastes, your wallet and the occasion walk you through the following choices. Drinking sparkling wine is fun: the average bottle of Champagne contains enough carbon dioxide to potentially produce 49 million bubbles!

This is in no way a complete list. Most are California wines, and a few hail from Spain. Most are made from white grapes but another popular choice this time of year is Rosé, which can be a wonderful accompaniment to holiday foods, such as cheese, charcuterie and roast turkey.

The following are a few sparkling wine suggestions, compliments of Schramsberg:

• Serve sparkling wines during the holidays—it pleases everyone!
• The best and quickest way to chill a bottle of sparkling wine is to put it in water and ice for 20 minutes.
• To open a bottle, hold it at a 45-degree angle, and turn the bottle, not the cork.
• Use sparkling wine flutes (tall narrow clear glasses) instead of saucer shaped glasses.
• Hold your flute by the stem, it’s more graceful and won’t warm the wine or leave fingerprints.


Let’s start at the top. Schramsberg, located in Calistoga, has always been one of my favorite Napa Valley wineries, since I interviewed owners Jack and Jamie Davies many years ago. To hear the audio interview, click here. Hugh Davies, Jack and Jamie’s son, currently operates the winery.

2002 J. Schram
This new release represents only 3% of the winery’s annual production and is dedicated to Schramsberg founder of 1862, Jacob Schram. This brut-style Chardonnay-focused wine delivers a beautiful balance of caramelized fruit flavors, a lingering mid-palate and a crisp finish. Winemakers Keith Hock and Hugh Davies say, “It bursts with aromas of fresh Granny Smith apple and juicy pineapple, followed by mature perfumes of freshly baked sourdough, roasted almond, and just a hint of graham cracker pie crust. A bright crisp entry leads way to generous flavors of candied grapefruit and glazed pineapple, with just a touch of key lime and mango. The mid-palate is rich and ever present, finishing with a tangy and lingering acidity. The 2002 J. 
Schram tastes deliciously today, and will continue to age and develop for decades to come.”

2002 J. Schram is available at the winery and is making its way into the marketplace.
Suggested Retail: $100

2006 Brut Rosé
This is a fun and lively wine that offers a beautiful rose color that will liven up your New Year’s Eve party. Brut Rosé is bone dry and full of flavors. This is a versatile sparkling wine and a perfect transition to a red wine during your meal. Brut Rosé
is outstanding with grilled foods and smoked salmon. You will smell strawberries, watermelon, and rhubarb pie and your palate will taste peach, blood orange, and strawberries.
Suggested Retail: $41

2006 Blanc de Blancs
This ‘white from white’ 100% Chardonnay has a crisp and festive palate, which lends itself perfectly for welcoming in the New Year. You will smell key lime, green apple, and honeydew melon and your palate will taste citrus, ripe Anjou pear, and baked apple pie.
Suggested Retail: $36


Mumm Napa

Located in Rutherford in the Napa Valley, Mumm Napa offers a guided tour of the winery, a Fine Art Photography Gallery and a wine shop with gifts as well as wines. And, of course, various forms of wine tastings are available. Their new Oak Terrace is now open.

2000 DVX
This 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay explodes with white and red berry flavors, with creamy layers of fresh fig, white cherry and vanilla bean, supported by a refreshing acidity. Biscuit, toast and nutty flavors dominate the long-lasting finish. The 2000 DVX is golden-yellow in color and has a gentle stream of tiny bubbles.
Suggested Retail: $60

Brut Rosé
This Brut Rosé offers a blend of 85% Pinot Noir fruit and 15% Chardonnay. It is rich with black cherry, dark plums and wild strawberry notes. The grapes are harvested at night, by hand, and delivered to the winery in signature “small yellow boxes” to protect the berries. Mumm’s Brut Rosé is a pink coral color.
Suggested Retail: $24

Brut Prestige
This is Mumm’s signature cuvee. This versatile wine is sourced from more than 50 prime Napa Valley vineyards to create a well-balanced wine. It has a delicate golden peach color with hints of melon, spice and toasty vanilla and a crisp lingering finish.
Suggested Retail: $20








Located in Yountville in the Napa Valley, Chandon has many tours and tastings and a Michelin stared restaurant. As the only fine dining restaurant within a winery in Napa Valley, étoile Restaurant epitomizes the very best that wine country dining has to offer.

Chandon Brut Classic
Classic balance typifies this refreshingly soft, yet dry wine. The wine delivers complex apple and pear characteristics accented by citrus spice over notes of almond and caramel in the bouquet. When you taste Brut Classic, look for nutty flavors with hints of brioche that build to a refreshingly dry finish.
Suggested Retail: $22

Chandon Blanc de Noirs
Chandon Blanc de Noirs is characteristically a delicate salmon color. Dark cherry, currant and strawberry dominate both aroma and flavor with hints of cassis and blackberry. These red fruit flavors build in the mid-palate and finish with a soft, lingering, creamy texture. Chandon Blanc de Noirs is the bubbly served at all White House receptions.
Suggested Retail: $22

Chandon Rosé
In the glass, the color is a dramatic deep pink. Intense ripe strawberry, juicy watermelon, and fresh red cherry fruit aromas and flavors are interwoven with apple, pear, and stone fruit. On the palate, the wine is creamy and seductive, with defined structure from the addition of still Pinot Noir at triage. The overall impression is one of bold vibrancy and impact from start to finish.
Suggested Retail: $22

Chandon Extra-Dry Riche
An inviting floral bouquet is followed by rich, honeyed fruit flavors that harmonize with the velvety-soft texture. Luscious peach and white nectarine layered with honey and apricots continue throughout the long finish.
Suggested Retail: $22

étoile Brut
Tiny bubbles elevate a complex bouquet of ripe pear, toasted brioche and apple compote in this prestige cuvée. Lemon custard flavors caress the palate followed by notes of baked apple crisp and roasted hazelnuts. The elegant structure persists throughout the long, savory finish.
Suggested Retail: $40

étoile Rosé
In keeping with the traditional Rosé winemaking method, Chandon added a small amount of red wine (Pinot Noir) prior to tirage to create the distinctive salmon color with copper hues. The wine’s aromas are rich and complex - floral notes with Santa Rosa plum, raspberry and nutmeg. These aromas follow through on the palate and are layered with candied ginger and pomegranate flavors, evolving into truffle, cocoa and earthy tones. The wine finishes with excellent length and richness that will stand up to a variety of foods.
Suggested Retail: $50




Located in Guerneville in Sonoma County, Korbel has been making champagne for 128 years.

This unique creation combines the lightness and sophistication of champagne with the rich flavor and casual elegance of Chardonnay for a drink that's perfect for any social or dining occasion. This wine is excellent with chicken, seafood dishes and pasta with cream-based sauces. An excellent choice to serve throughout the meal.
Suggested Retail: $11.99

Brut Rosé
This is a bright fresh-flavored wine with flavors of strawberry, cherry and melon. It is medium-dry with a noticeable blush of color. This wine is excellent with roast chicken, fruit-based salads or chocolate.
Suggested Retail: $11.99


One of America's favorite bottle-fermented champagne, Korbel Brut is light tasting and crisp with a 1% dosage for a balanced medium-dry finish. This wine is excellent with chicken or seafood dishes, also with Asian foods. A wonderful choice with fruit and mild cheese.
Suggested Retail: $11.99

This very crisp, dry, delicate champagne is a true representation of Korbel's fruit-forward "house" style. Made from the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes that are grown in the cool Russian River Valley of Sonoma County, Natural´ is excellent with light fish dishes or grilled prawns. It is ideal as an aperitif. Natural´ also pairs well with dishes with fruit, especially citrus.
Suggested Retail: $15.99




Freixenet is one of the most renowned and largest cava houses in Spain, similar in quality, size and importance to France's Moet & Chandon. Cava is the Spanish sparkling wine equivalent to France's Champagne.

Cordon Negro
Referred to as the “Black Bottle Bubbly, ” this is Freixenet’s most popular cava. Pronounced "fresh-eh-net", this sparkling wine or cava is made in the classic méthode champenoise tradition. It is medium-bodied with apple, pear and bright citrus flavors and a moderately long and crisp, clean finish. This wine pairs well with a wide range of foods from shrimp salad to olive and tomato bruschetta to cheese appetizers.
Suggested Retail: $12

Cordon Rosado
This sparkling Rosé wine is fresh, crisp and lively. It is full of ripe cherry and berry flavors with a body that is exceptionally smooth and satiny. It is surprisingly dry with a long and satisfying finish. This premium sparkling wine is smoother, softer and "friendlier" than brut with an appealing and attractive salmon-pink color.
Suggested Retail: $12

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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