For holiday sparkle, think pink

The gorgeous hues of these wines add a little extra specialness to an already special time of year.MCT

Bubbles work this time of year; pink bubbles work it. For your year-end sparkling wines, why not drink in the pink? Many producers of French Champagne make a rose Champagne. So do those winemakers who produce sparkling wines elsewhere in the world using the methode champenoise. The gorgeous hues of these wines add a little extra specialness to an already special time of year.

Sparkling wines get pink in one of two ways; either a white wine is tinted pink by a small dollop of red wine, or the skins of red wine grapes transfuse a slight blush of pink during a fermentation. It is interesting to note that, at least in France, it is illegal to make a white wine pink by adding red wine to it except in the region of Champagne.

Also, while many rose Champagnes are among the more dear in the portfolios of their respective houses, the pink sparkling wines from elsewhere in France, especially the Loire and Alsace, represent some of the world's better rose sparkling wine values.

Although pink sparklers are a relatively recent development in the world of wine (the idea really took off after the 1960s), some producers of rose bubbly in especially the U.S. and Italy now give Champagne a real run for the roses.

Bubblies to try

Here are many recommendations for your year-end pink bubblies, listed by price, from a few countries.

NV Michelle Brut Rose, Columbia Valley, Washington: This year's "best buy" bubbly; 18 months yeast aging? All pinot? Fruity yet crisp? Under $20? Why, yes. $14.

NV Charles Baur Cremant d'Alsace Brut Rose, Alsace, France: Flavors such as rhubarb-cranberry rock candy, flecked with scents of bread dough rising; soft and pleasant; great price. $16.

2010 Raventos i Blanc "de Nit" Rosado Cava, Penedes, Spain: Cava remains good value, and this pinkie shows why; paleness surprises because of ebullient character of red and black-red fruit flavors, hints of nuts and earth and snappy finish, all for very little money. $23.

NV Gussalli Beretta Lo Sparviere Brut Rose "Monique," Franciacorta, Italy: From perhaps Italy's best methode champenoise-producing district, this blend of chardonnay (20 percent) and pinot noir (80 percent) offers comely salmon flesh color, hints of rose petal and a superdry, crisp finish. $30.

2009 Laetitia Brut Rose, Arroyo Grande Valley, California: Great price for California methode champenoise; best asset: older pinot vineyards. $32.

2009 Schramsberg Brut Rose, North Coast, California: No-fail producer; red fruits (strawberry, cherry and cranberry) mirrored in color, accented with white tea spice; lively finish. $37.

NV Collet Brut Rose, Champagne, France: Great example of the best in Champagne, that mosaic-like blending of grape varieties and 15 separate wines, all highly ranked as premier crus and then aged for four years on its lee; great price for the appellation and all it carries in it. $41.

NV Paul Goerg Premier Cru Brut Rose, Champagne, France: One of Champagne's more reliable co-ops puts out this multilayered pinkie; nice hint of chalk. $42.

NV Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rose, Champagne, France: The layered deliciousness is reflection of the many grape growers who contribute to this premium co-op's quality; intense but also pretty. $48.

NV Chandon Brut Rose "Cuvee Etoile," North Coast, California: In nuance, layers of flavor and scent, persistence of everything, better than many Champagnes costing into the $80s; five years' yeast aging does tell; a fantastic American sparkling wine at a very reasonable price for what you get. $50.

NV Besserat de Bellefon Brut Rose "Cuvee les Moines," Champagne, France: A longtime favorite, especially for its lower pressure cremant style; its flavor simply does not end, even with fine, super-racy acidity to close off the taste; beautiful blend of chardonnay and the pinots, three years' aging. $50.

NV Delamotte Brut Rose, Champagne, France: The house style is driven by chardonnay, and it shows even in this rose, with a line that skewers the fruit along in a taste of it, incisive yet like an unfurling silk banner, wafting aromas and tastes of red fruits, chalk and yeast. $50-$70.

2009 Inman Family Winery Brut Nature Rose "Endless Crush," Russian River Valley, California: Made in the superdry style, with no dosage, resulting in an unadorned linear feel; the winemaking, however, packs in gobs of red fruit aromas and flavors accented by lees-y notes and nuttiness. $70.

NV Laurent-Perrier Brut "Cuvee Rose," Champagne, France: A famed rose for years ahead of its time; richly textured, almost creamy, with come-hither aromas at every approach. $100.

If your wine store does not carry these wines, ask for one similar in style and price.


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