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Sparkling wines for NYE

I know its sounds like the same old line but very truly I cannot believe that the end of the year is upon us. I have so many people coming down to the Wine Cellar saying that they're glad the new year is coming; they're excited to move forward with great hopes and efforts for 2010. This positive approach is heartwarming to hear.

Every end of the year I list for you a few wonderful values in sparkling wines available for the table on the New Year's Eve. Here are a few gems.

Prosecco: Everyone loves these sparklers. Prosecco comes from the Veneto in northeastern Italy and has been a favorite for many generations of bubble seekers. Known for their dry, fresh and thirst quenching qualities, Prosecco remains the top choice for those wishing to dine with sparkling wine or simply have the sparkler by itself. In Italy one says that Prosecco always tastes the best when served with someone you love. Leave it to the Italians! The truth of the matter is that Prosecco is seen at almost every festive occasion in Italy and for good reason, as well as being served at many state occasions throughout the Italian embassy system. Prosecco comes in very dry styles. It is crispy, creamy and full flavored in the mouth. Unlike many cheap sparklers, Prosecco does not have that turbid 7-Up gangbuster bubble hit, but comes up through the glass in a very stately, easy manner, holding its effervescence for quite a while. I think the fun with this kind of sparkling wine is its ability to cleanse the palate with just about any cuisine. The better Prosecco is around twenty bucks per and well worth the money spent.

Spanish Cava: I like the Cava wines from Spain. The problem is that there are many very inexpensive Cava out there and they taste, well, inexpensively made. The problem often is that Cava can become sharp in the finish and lose the sparkle quickly. The best bet is to try to find a "Reserva" Cava from Spain which is a wholly different experience. These wines are very elegant, creamy and have delicious flavors and can be quite unlike the under fifteen dollar more astringent sisters. These sparkling wines are worth the effort to find.

Capitello: Ninety-one points in the Wine Spectator. I have not tasted a better American made sparkling wine than this new release from the Willamette Valley. I have tasted many of the biggies from California, but this sparkling wine is really quite superior. In fact, after tasting this wine on three separate occasions against some of the wonderful French guys, I would honestly say that this little winery does a better job! The sparkler starts out with a lovely bouquet of toast and light yeast, and when sipped, expands in layers of bubble across the palate which give off hint of dry pear and lemon. I cannot say enough about this remarkable offering. This is also worth a special effort to find. What a treat!

Moscato d'Asti, Asti Spumante: For those with a sweet tooth we have the sweeter sparklers from Italy. These Muscat based sweeties are legendary throughout the world for their soft sweetness and alluring flavor components which fit right in with chocolate, fruit and cheese. The Moscato d' Asti is more refined than its brother and costs a bit more but really puts the lovely Muscat grape on the map. The Asti Spumante has more bubble power but also boasts, as with the Moscato d' Asti, low alcohol and a fresh grapey delight which cannot be beat. I like these sparkling wines for their after dinner refreshing qualities, the lightness of clean flavors and the idea that one is not going to get whacked from the octane of, for example, a Port. (Hey, I love Port and sell a lot of them but sometimes lighter, bubbly and low alcohol fits the bill.) The Muscat grape can be such a charmer and can have such a wonderful dimension of different fruit flavors. Yum!

For those who wish to go to the max, the new 2002 Cristal has arrived with a rating of 100 points! Yikes! Most of the Champagne lovers are swooning over this platinum release and for good reason. They say that "perfection" cannot be reached in a wine. Well, this comes pretty darned close to it! This guy is most likely the best in the world but there are those who have their favorites, as in all things, bubbly or not.