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Bubbling Over Budget

Our guide to 2010's best sparkling wine over $25




At the end of 2009—a year whose demise, many of us reported, we couldn't wait to toast—the Bohemian offered readers a guide to getting tight on a tight budget with some of the North Bay's finest sparkling wines costing less than $25. This year, we look back upon a recovering economy in which bankers prospered, and the housing market, um . . . and unemployment, um . . . and don't forget the grape harvest, which saw disaster followed by rain . . . aw, screw it.

We call party-time. It's the holidays, folks. It's New Year's Eve! Let's check the scrimpy, crimpy budgety thing at the door—for now—and put 2010 on ice with the help of some of the finest bubbly from North Bay wineries. This year, we look at middle and top-tier sparklers, some of which have been in bottle since the start of this decade, blissfully sleeping it through. We can always write ourselves a New Year's resolution the next morning: "I will not splurge on delightfully tongue-tingling effervescent spirits to share with some of my best friends and relations . . . until everybody gets a tax cut." Done.

Wines were blind-tasted and scored on a scale of 1 to 5 by Bohemian staff and freelance writers, who, like the squirrelly, creative souls that they are, also liberally added their own inventive comments.

Mumm Napa Brut Reserve ($36) Bright and clean. Aromas of lemon blossom and saltine cracker lead to crisp, Pinot Grigio&–like flavors in this roundly-lauded, well-balanced sparkler: "Sea monkey bubbles; Middle Earth in the springtime; full body, fresh construction; hits all pleasure mouth points; perfectly balanced carbonation; elfin sweat; like a delicious piece of wood." Score: 4.4

Mumm Napa 2001 DVX Napa Valley ($60) This late-disgorged, signature sparkling, named for founder Guy Devaux, has a freshness that put it ahead of others. Faint cream and floral, citrus blossom aromas lead to an elegant, airy mousse that fills the mouth with light bubbles: "Lemon cheesecake; tobacco farm, with soft puppetry; comfort; reminds me of the NYE party in which I played soccer with two dogs in the rain." Score: 4

Gloria Ferrer 2002 Royal

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