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The Weekly Dozen

Try as we might, we just can’t resist savoring crisp and flavorful bubblies as New Year’s Eve approaches, whether it’s royal Champagne or simple Asti – so why bother to resist?  We have here a good mix of sparklers and of prices.  So stock up, and don’t forget – while you may see fewer bubbles, a white wine glass will give you better aromatics than a Champagne flute.  Plus you won’t have to fill your glass as often. Up next week: A post-holiday red wave.

NV Martini & Rossi Asti Sparkling Wine – Sweet ($13).  While I’m not a big fan of moscatos, this is a well-made and very affordable one, great for after-dinner sipping – very lively, well-balanced with creamy-candy flavors. Also light in alcohol – a mere 7.5% - a pleasant pouf.

NV Martini & Rossi Prosecco – Extra Dry ($13). A nice middle-of-the-road Prosecco, not as fruity as most, with very savory straw and herbal notes.

NV Mumm Napa Brut Prestige ($19). Although this California sparkler tends to fizzle at the end, it has a very nice middle, with flavors of cake icing and citrus.

2016 Mionetto “Cuvée Anniversaire” Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut Nature ($26). With no sweet dosage, this savory Prosecco reminds me of a sparkler from Alsace. But that’s neither here nor there – a savory wine with mature green herbal flavors and a very crisp finish, so enjoy it with your New Year’s Eve dinner.

NV Besserat de Bellefon “Grande Tradition” Brut Champagne ($37). Besserat makes a good variety of affordable Champagnes, and this brut has the flavors of fresh grapes along with tart apple peel and a smidgen of brioche with intense, fine bubbles.

NV Champagne Jacquart Brut “Mosaique” ($37). A very affordable sparkler – rich, full-bodied with lots of bubbles and lightly fruity flavors.

NV Besserat de Bellefon “Cuvée des Moines” Champagne Extra Brut ($49). A classic steely, very crisp Champagne, very tightly knit with green apple flavors.

NV Bruno Paillard Grand Cru Champagne “Blanc de Blanc” Extra Brut ($70). Paillard is at once one of the most-respected vintners in Champagne and one of its biggest mavericks. The extra brut is delicious – complex and assertive, with fruity apple notes followed by a savory green finish.

2002 Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Brut ($76).  A beautiful aged Champagne with rich intensity, yeasty and herbal flavors, full-bodied yet elegant with a mellow finish.

NV Charles Heidsieck Rosé Reserve Brut Champagne ($82). Toast the New Year with rosé-colored wine glasses – rich in texture, very floral with cherry and lightly candied flavors.

Krug Grande Cuvée 166eme Edition Champagne Brut ($176). I was a guest of Krug in Reims one week in 2011 when they assembled this blend, and it is superb! Almost-metallic minerality, full-bodied, a whisper of vanilla, a few green notes, crisp yet toasty finish – everything a great Champagne should be.

Graham’s “Six Grapes” Reserve Port ($21). I just had to sneak in among the bubbles this rich Port for all you folks who are wondering what to drink with that round of Stilton cheese. Not as elegant as a vintage Port, but still at that delightful cusp where ripe cherry flavors plunge into richer, almost chocolate tastes.

Prices listed are generally SRP or from

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