Friday, December 29, 2006

A Night To Sparkle

I was just reading the New Year's Eve wine recommendations of the wine guy over at USA Today. He's recommending an interesting-sounding sparkling chenin blanc, which I very much would like to try. But he goes on to say that the best value in sparkling wine today may be Gruet from New Mexico.

Anyone who has been reading Walk the Wine from the beginning may recall that Gruet was my recommended sparkler for last New Year's Eve, just the second post of this new blog. And, since the wife and I discovered this terrific sparkling wine on a trip to New Mexico eight years ago, I've been recommending this wine (few would listen) for quite a few years. Now that the so-called experts are on board I, of course, in very mature fashion want to tell them -- idiots, what took you so long?

Jerry Shriver also says that the quality of low-end sparkling wines has increased significantly in the past five or so years -- true overall but not so true of Gruet. It's been remarkable for a long time. What this French family has been able to do in the desert climate of New Mexico is extraordinary -- an impressive low-end brut (about $12) and truly fantastic blanc de blanc and blanc de noir wines. It's a tribute to good old-fashioned know-how over environment.

I still recommend Gruet sparklers heartily, but their brut is no longer my pick for best-value sparkling wine out there. A Spanish cava, Cristalino, is. This sparkler goes for $10 or less but has the rich aromas that your would expect from $25 sparklers -- apples, citrus and almonds. You really can't do better under $10.

There is so much good sparkling wine on the market right now it's really hard to go wrong -- it's just a matter of what you want to spend. True Champagne in the $35 range is still great. But the real point is you don't have to spend that much if you don't want to.

Looking for a terrific California sparkler? There's lots of great ones over $20, but the best at a reasonable price (just barely $20)may be Roederer Estate Anderson Valley.

There's no reason not to enjoy your New Year celebrations with great sparkling wine. It's never been easier. How about trying several different sparkling wines in a line-up of different styles? Sounds like a guaranteed happy New Year to me!


Blogger Deb said...

Just got home from a party and had a smidgen of some very bad Cabernet! What a bummer (the wine!) I wanted to get on teh road prior to everyone else and avoid some of the crazy people. I have a bottle of Argyle sparkling wine from Orgeon waiting to be opened. Gotta's getting close to midnight! ;)

2:10 AM  
Blogger JD said...

Too bad about the cab, but the sparkler sounds great. We had a small celebration at our house so we avoided the roads. Hope you have a great New Year!!

8:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


We had the Roederer get us in the New Year's mood.

Very nice and very fruity. Nice lime notes.

And since we were passing through the Northeast, we paid your nice sparkling prices. I can tell you that above all you guys get some good deals on sparklers. That Roederer is $10 more in Canada, plus there's plenty of good Champagne for $15-20 less than we pay.

2:03 PM  
Blogger JD said...

I didn't realize we had it that good -- we all think the "sin" taxes are too high. Thanks for that perspective.

4:46 PM  

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