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By Michael Dresser and Baltimore Sun reporter | April 7, 2010
This well-made, dry sparkling wine comes from the giant Spanish producer Freixenet. I'm not a big fan of Freixenet's cheaper white sparkling wines, which I find too earthy, but this wine was spot-on and a good value. It's a deep pink color — very attractive — and its feel on the palate is crisp and clean. There are appealing mineral and cherry flavors, with a lingering finish. You won't mistake it for Champagne rose, but it comes in at about one-third the price, so that can be forgiven.
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December 23, 2013
From: Napa Valley, Calif. Price: $22 Serve with: Caviar, hors d'ouvres, shellfish This California sparkling wine comes so close to the elegance and character of a fine brut Champagne that it's questionable whether it's worth paying a premium for the French version. It's a full-bodied style with fine penetration and persistence. It offers yeasty, toasty flavors reminiscent of Champagne, with perhaps just a touch more fruit flavor coming through. Mumm Napa has long been one of the better spinoffs of a Champagne brand, and it hasn't lost its edge.
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By Scott Walton and Scott Walton,Knight-Ridder News Service | September 23, 1993
There's strength in numbers. Faberge is spending $10 million to re-launch Brut after-shave via its aggressive Men Are Back ad campaign. Not a penny was spent altering the fragrance's original formula, however."
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By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun | December 31, 2012
It's hard to find a true Champagne that isn't at least good to drink. That's why they're a splurge, even in the least expensive category: non vintage brut reserve. However, Charles Heidsieck's version has long been a standout in the category. It's a full-bodied style of Champagne - with a smooth, creamy texture and the classic Champagne flavors of yeast, nuts and fresh-baked bread. Its complexity level is rare among its peers. From: Champagne, France Price: $65 Serve with: Caviar, oysters, celebration
FEATURES
By MICHAEL DRESSER | December 2, 1990
In recent weeks, I have tasted more than three dozen sparkling wines, all bought in Maryland. These are some of the highlights and lowlights.The prices given represent what I paid, but there are wide variations as different stores put different wines on sale during the holidays.ChampagneSparkling successLouis Roederer Brut Premier ($31): Exceptional intensity, great delicacy. No outstanding single characteristic, just a beautifully integrated whole, with flavors that bore right into the brain's pleasure centers.
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By Michael Dresser and Michael Dresser,SUN WINE CRITIC | June 7, 2000
There was a time, not too long ago, when wine consumers had a rather limited choice when they wanted to indulge in a bottle of true French champagne. About a dozen well-known brands - names such as Moet & Chandon, Mumm and Taittinger - dominated the market. Connoisseurs of esoterica could choose from another two dozen small producers - if they could find a bottle. That has all changed in a big way. Recent years have brought a flood of new names into the champagne market. Even the experts are having a difficult time keeping up with the profusion of choices.
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By Michael Dresser | December 5, 1993
Over a weeklong period last month, we tasted more than two dozen dry sparkling wines -- all made through the "methode champenoise."They ranged in price from about $8 to almost $45. Within the categories, they are listed here by region of origin, from some impressive bests to some ignominious worsts.ChampagnesVeuve Clicquot Brut ($27) isn't the most robust Champagne, but it's close. What stands out, however, is its delicate mix of power and elegance. This is an extraordinarily stylish wine that is at its best when served with food.
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By Rob Hiaasen and Rob Hiaasen,Staff Writer | December 22, 1993
Christmas, 1993. Someone will give me cologne. Just what I needed, I'll say, even though my current bottle of Paul Sebastian has the half-life of plutonium.I don't even know when or why to wear cologne anymore. What, splash a little on for work? My co-workers don't need or care to smell me. We don't have that kind of relationship.The only time cologne meant anything was when we were little. Using cologne years before we shaved or dated was a rite of passage. Around age 13, we started coating our faces with Dad's Old Spice, Jade East or Skin Bracer.
NEWS
By MICHAEL DRESSER | July 16, 2008
From: Italy Price: $19 Serve with: Fish, shellfish, antipasto This dry Italian sparkling wine is a departure from the style of Champagne - lacking some of the yeasty, toasty notes - but its quality is certainly equal to that of a fine nonvintage brut from that better-known and more expensive region. It shows a creamy texture, with appealing flavors of minerals, almonds and lemon and a crisp, clean finish. Imported by Villa Banfi.
NEWS
By MICHAEL DRESSER | December 4, 2002
Just when you think you know everything there is to know about Champagne, something comes along to teach you humility. Before receiving samples this fall, I had not heard of Duval-Leroy, a family-owned producer making its North American debut this year. Schedules could not be arranged for a meeting with Carol Duval-Leroy, the young widow who runs the company, so six sample wines had do the speaking for the estate. Wow! From the $25 nonvintage brut to the $79 vintage 1990 "Femme" luxury bottling, all of the wines were fabulous and competitively priced.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun | October 2, 2011
This is hardly the greatest sparking wine on the market. But there's a good case to be made that this is the best widely distributed, reasonably dry bubbly in this price range. It's not as dry as most brut Champagnes, nor is it as complex, but it's a well-made, toasty, crackling wine that doesn't insult the palate — as cheap sparklers often do. It competes well with many of its counterparts in the neighborhood of $20. You could call it frugality with some class. From: Columbia Valley, Wash.
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By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun | May 16, 2011
From: Mendoza, Argentina Price: $13 Serve with: Caviar, salmon, hors d'oeuvres For the second straight week, Wine Find shines a spotlight on the amazing wines of Argentina's Santa Julia, one of the best winery's for quality and value this writer has run across. This nonvintage pink sparkling wine made from pinot noir grapes is simply the best brut rose I've ever tasted in its price class. It's crisp, well-rounded, penetrating and crackling with wonderful flavors of strawberry and cherry – along with a hint of anise.
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By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun | November 29, 2010
I've been a fan of Roederer Estate since it first came on the market in 1988. Even at the start, this spinoff of Champagne's Roederer firm has stood out among California sparkling wines. It had been a few years since I'd tasted it, but the Anderson Valley winery's nonvintage brut is better than ever — as faithful a replication of the full-bodied, bold style of Champagne as you could hope for in an American wine. It has deep, toasty, yeasty flavors and remarkable grip — with none of the excess fruitiness that afflicts too many California sparkling wines.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Michael Dresser and Baltimore Sun reporter | April 7, 2010
This well-made, dry sparkling wine comes from the giant Spanish producer Freixenet. I'm not a big fan of Freixenet's cheaper white sparkling wines, which I find too earthy, but this wine was spot-on and a good value. It's a deep pink color — very attractive — and its feel on the palate is crisp and clean. There are appealing mineral and cherry flavors, with a lingering finish. You won't mistake it for Champagne rose, but it comes in at about one-third the price, so that can be forgiven.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Michael Dresser | michael.dresser@baltsun.com | December 30, 2009
From: Champagne, France Price: $40 Serve with: Caviar and countdowns There is still nothing that says New Year's Eve as well as a classic dry champagne - the real stuff, not New World imitators. Taittinger is hardly a boutique winery. It is among the most widely distributed champagnes on the planet. But despite its immense production, "La Francaise" has consistently been a paragon of the delicate, elegant style of champagne (as opposed to more robust style such as Bollinger)
NEWS
By MICHAEL DRESSER | July 16, 2008
From: Italy Price: $19 Serve with: Fish, shellfish, antipasto This dry Italian sparkling wine is a departure from the style of Champagne - lacking some of the yeasty, toasty notes - but its quality is certainly equal to that of a fine nonvintage brut from that better-known and more expensive region. It shows a creamy texture, with appealing flavors of minerals, almonds and lemon and a crisp, clean finish. Imported by Villa Banfi.
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By Michael Dresser and Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF | December 27, 1995
Anybody who is ever tempted to underestimate the power of American ingenuity should consider the case of California sparking wine.Two decades ago, the suggestion that California would ever produce bubbly rivaling the quality of fine Champagne would have been seen as ludicrous.Only a handful of sparkling wine specialists existed in the state, and except for Schramsberg, none received nor deserved much respect.True, some Champagne houses were beginning to develop California operations to supplement their French production, but these ventures were regarded primarily as an attempt to capitalize on their famous names.
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By Michael Dresser and Michael Dresser,SUN WINE CRITIC | November 7, 2001
When drinking California sparkling wine, sometimes it's hard to tell whether your flute is half-empty or half-full. The wines have certainly come a long way since serious producers started using Champagne grape varieties and the painstaking methode Champenoise -- fermentation in bottle -- in the 1960s and 1970s. But while many of these wines try very hard to copy the style that made Champagne deservedly world-famous, few truly succeed. A good number come reasonably close, while many more aren't even in the ballpark.
NEWS
By MICHAEL DRESSER | December 21, 2005
Mumm's Napa Valley operation is one of the more successful spinoffs of a French Champagne house, and in this wine it demonstrates an uncanny ability to mimic the character of Champagne using Napa Valley fruit. This wine is yeasty, elegant, cutting and complex - at a more-than-competitive cost, given its high quality. It pops with flavors of nuts, pears, bread and vanilla, and the texture is creamy until it reaches an appropriately crisp finish. Serve with --caviar, smoked salmon, shellfish
NEWS
By Michael Dresser and Michael Dresser,SUN WINE CRITIC | December 3, 2003
Champagne rose is an oxymoron in a bottle: a truly serious frivolous wine. It is serious because it is, after all, Champagne. It hails from the greatest sparkling-wine region in the world, and it carries a price tag that reflects that heritage. It's frivolous because it is, to one degree or another, pink. And while pink might look good on millions of flamingos and Reese Witherspoon, as a color it lacks gravitas. (Think now, when was the last time you saw Hillary in pink?) Either way, you look at Champagne rose, it's a fascinating category of wine, with a palette of flavors distinct from the more conventional white sparkling wines of the region.
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