The End of 2009 Is Reason to Cheer

Celebrate New Year’s Eve with five great sparkling wines. (And celebrate the holidays in general with two bubbly dessert wines.)



It’s been a tough year, this 2009. All the more reason to celebrate its end with a bottle (or two) of bubbly and forget the whole thing. Several American vineyards, from places familiar and unusual, are making extraordinary sparkling wine, perfect for ringing in the New Year. Here’s what I think are the best of the bunch. All labels are available at local wine dealers, except where noted.

Argyle Brut Rosé
Less than $45

Sparkling rosés are hot. Talk about bubbly, this pink charmer practically explodes out of the glass like a spray of confetti. A light wine with a flower petal scent, this product of Dundee, Oregon, keeps the flavor of the pinot noir grape it is made of, and will drink well with dinner.
J Vintage Brut—
Extended Tirage Release

Less than $50

There’s a mass of flavors in this California wine. With a slow progression from crisp citrus to mellow vanilla, J’s gentle brut is one to savor. A two-year aging, or tirage, in the bottle makes it worthy of a special New Year’s toast or a major, self-indulgent treat.
Kluge Brut Rosé
Less than $38

Grown on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, this strawberry-colored beauty belies its lighthearted hue with a complex flavor of cherries and citrus, and subtle, almost sultry, bubbles. A perfect pairing with your holiday seafood or lamb repast to ring in the new.

 
Wattle Creek
Sparkling Shiraz

$35 direct from the vineyard, Wattle Creek Winery, at wattlecreek.com

Not a rosé, but a rich, bubbly red. The flavors are as deep as the almost-purple color, with echoes of ripe elderberry and chocolate, and a bubble so intense it practically has a head. The earthy flavors and high alcohol content make this shiraz from California’s Alexander Valley the antithesis of a dessert wine.
Westport Rivers
2003 Brut Cuvée RJR

Less than $25

Produced on an old dairy farm an hour south of Boston, this sparkler offers everything: a soft, flowery aroma, creamy flavors of ripe pears, and a “frothy mousse” (lots of tiny bubbles). Raise this glass of cheer to bring in 2010; it’s as good as most French Champagnes at a fraction of the price.
Dessert Wines
Made with the sweetest of grapes, these two wines are ideal dessert quaffs to go with your Christmas pudding:
Gruet Demi Sec
Less than $14

It’s hard to imagine a light, sweet bubbly coming from New Mexico. This dessert wine from the desert combines chardonnay and pinot noir for a taste full of pears, apples and honey. A great match with berries and firm cakes
Sylvan Ridge Early Muscat Semi-Sparkling
$14 direct from the vineyard, Sylvan Ridge Winery, at silvanridge.com

If you like a sweet Italian Moscato, you will have a new favorite in this lightly bubbled cake-mate from Oregon’s highly regarded Sylvan Ridge. Best described as “charming,” it’s a fresh, low alcohol wine, with scents of tropical fruit and the taste of—here’s a surprise—grapes!

Crate & Barrel Edge Flute

$11.95 each, Crate & Barrel, crateandbarrel.com
A good wine deserves a good glass. The unusual lines of the hand-blown Edge will spotlight the bubbles, and your excellent taste.

 

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