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A Taste for Brut Wines
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Living in Wine Country
August 2005--Wine Recommendations

“This Brut’s For You”—Tasting Notes

By Thom Elkjer

Whether you call it sparkling wine or Champagne, picking the right wine for your occasion (whether it be a special event, or just everyday) is easy when you follow Thom Elkjer's recommendations. Here are a couple of Napa and Sonoma California favorites.

A few of these “basic bubblies” have vintage dates, but they’re still mainstay wines you can count on year in and year out.

Scharffenberger Mendocino Brut Scharffenberger Mendocino Brut ($16): the dark, concentrated toasty aromas that waft up from the glass are in the glass, too, along with animal-cracker sweetness in the attack and refreshing, mouthwatering acidity toward the finish.
Domaine Chandon California "Brut Classic" ($17): if you like Chardonnay, this could be your bubbly; it’s subtler than Chard, but with similar breadth on your palate and warmth in the finish. Nice fizzy texture, too.
Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut ($18): offers appealing aromas of sweet Chardonnay and fresh wheat toast followed by an impressive flood of cool fruit when you sip; the initial sweetness mists away discretely for a dry, refreshing finish.
Schramsberg North Coast Brut "Mirabelle" ($19): the aromas are outgoing, yeasty, and almost grapey; in your mouth, it’s a reverse of the usual sparkling ride, starting out with savory citrus notes and evolving toward a sweeter aftertaste.
Mumm Napa California “Brut Prestige” ($19): it looks, feels and tastes celebratory, from the bright, fruity aromas full of citrus flower to the buoyant, crisp, and fizzy taste of liquid tea biscuits flowing over your tongue.
Domaine Carneros Carneros Brut 2001 ($24): exudes refinement, with the delicate, high-toned aromas followed by quince, citrus, and coconut elegantly accenting discreet Chardonnay and Pinot Noir flavors; the mouth-filling aftertaste goes on and on.
Iron Horse Vineyards Sonoma Green Valley Brut “Wedding Cuvée” 2001 ($30): a serious wine with many dimensions; cool, clean floral and fruit aromas, darker and honeyed apple flavors, and an expansive finish that adds back the high tones.
J Wine Company Russian River Brut 1999 ($30): shyly delicate in its Chardonnay-like aromas, this bubbly is surprisingly fruity, almost peachy, in your mouth; there’s also a nice frothy texture and good balance of sweet and savory in the finish.

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