Sauternes and Sauternes-styled wines

Domaine Cauhapé Jurancon Vendages du 6 Novembre 1994 ($14)(Iron Winegeeks): Medium gold-amber; pleasant light buttery-vanilla-orange rind aromas; tastes tangy & slightly creamy, some nice fruit, good balance of medium sweetness to firm acidity. Nice, medium-weight Jurancon that is lively and bright in a balanced, easygoing package, clearly superior to the 7 & 8 Novembre 1994, and not giving much away to the vaunted 5 Novembre 1994, either. (2/19/00)

La Chapelle de Lafaurie-Peyraugey Sauternes 2001 ($13/.375). Remember when Laufaurey-Peyraugey used to be the cheap daily-drinker Sauternes? Well, the times they have a-changed, and now the second wines costs the same as the first used to a few years back. Sigh. Smells sweetly vanilla-butterscotchy, orange rind, if there's any botrytis it's not in evidence, although maybe a hint emerges with air. Or maybe that's my imagination, hard to tell, it's just at the threshold of perception. Tastes sweet but not thick, with a bright acidic spine, a good sweetness/acid balance. There's maybe just a bit more butterscotchiness than a mediumweight Sauternes needs, but some good apricot-orange flavorosity counterbalances it gamely. This is about the only recent vintage I'd think of buying a Bordeaux second wine (notoriously poor values in my book), and the quality shows through even in second-tier material: this is actually a pretty tasty wine, just slightly puppyfattish, crisp and sweet and flavorpacked. It's simple in comparison to bigshot Sauternes, but it's likeable and complete enough for me to go back for another bottle. [Buy again? Maybe one or two more, sure.]

Château Climens Sauternes-Barsac 1971 ($160) (Bordeaux Bash): Pale orange-gold color. There's a lot going on here... oh... heavens... mandarin orange, vanilla, apricot, honey, hay, other stuff, a delight to inhale. Tastes beautiful, crisp and rich, creamy and layered, deeply and impressively flavored, still has a deep core of youth amidst the feathered-brown trappings of middle age. Rich hay-apricot-lemon-creme-brulée flavors flicker and evanesce in the midpalate, which is weighty and nimble at once, before you come to the slow, warm afterswallow. Quite wondrous, a wine to sit back and admire before one pours it down one's appreciative gullet, and the one I squirrel away a splash of to nurse as we head into the wee hours. (12/11/00)

Château Climens Sauternes-Barsac 1986 ($60): Pale yellow color, very light; nose is equally light, soft and creamy vanilla, lemon, hay & a mess o'botrytis. Soft and delicate in the mouth, creamy, vanilla-caramel, interesting light lemon-pineapple notes flit around, but this wine seems very soft and a bit flabby and woody after the two Germans. I come back to it later in the evening and find it more rewarding. (9/99)

Le Clocher du Pavillon Sauternes 2000 ($10) (Drunken Hawaiian Holidays): (A Monsieur Touton wine: I had been under the impression that Monsieur Touton was a marketing creation, but recently David Lillie assured me the gentleman exists. I feel much better now.) Light vanilla, honey and orange/lemon rind hints. Light, easygoing and sweetly supple, a simple wine but a likeable one. Frankly, hard to beat for $10 for a .750. On the soft and light side, no botrytis to speak of, but some good density and layerings of flavor, more of a whole than the Violon, which is simple and one-dimensional; this has at least two dimensions and spreads out amiably on the tongue. Pretty sweet for its small frame, but with enough structure to get by. Drinkable cheap Sauternes: bravo, Monsieur Touton, you sly rogue! (5/03)

Château Coutet à Barsac Barsac 1978($15)(Horrifying the Newbies): Medium gold color. There is a bit of an odd funkiness that blows off quickly to reveal and/or offer up a yellowfruity nose, lemon and light vanilla with a nutty, almondy streak. Pleasantly middling-sweet, this is a nicely balanced middle-of-the-road wine with a medium-creamy mouthfeel and medium sweetness. Decent but fairly generic, although age seems to have added a certain amount of complexity to what essentially seems like a fairly simple but pleasant wine. (3/3/01)

Château Coutet à Barsac Barsac 1989 ($30) (Of Bass and Men): This is a much bigger wine than the last, denser, fruitier and more botrytised. A bruiser with a nice oily mouthfeel that marries well with the terrine and coats the mouth with apricot-orange rind-vanilla-honey flavors. Partisans cry "The real thing!" while detractors say "Tastes the same as the last one." (2/01)

Le Dauphin de Guiraud Sauternes 2000 ($20/.500) (Rivers of Liquid Gold I): Light straw-gold color. Quiet smellies, paraffin, lemon, vanilla, maybe just a hint of botrytis. A sip, and it's a slender lemon-creamy wine, medium-sweet and nicely crisp. Decent, flavorful, bit of roughness on the finish. No great shakes but not bad either, a light, small wine that has the decency to stay within itself. (11/05)

De Bortoli Botrytis Semillon 'Sauternes' 1982 (Casus Bello): Orange-brown amber color, smells of toffee and caramelized apricots steeped in coconut. Tastes goopy-sweet, baked orange rind and caramel flavors. Perhaps there is botrytis here, but it's drowned in a sea of caramelized rock-candy fruit flavors. This may be too goopy even for Kane. Sugar is keeping it clinically alive, but quality of life is minimal: pull the plug. (3/02)

Château Doisy-Vedrines Sauternes 2001 ($17/.375) (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner): Smells sweetly tropical--butterscotch and vanilla, pineapple and botrytic hay hints. Very sweet and rich, lightly botrytised but boisterous and creamy-oily, opulent Sauternes that mixes wonderfully with the liver. Damn, the size and weight of this wine compared to recent vintages takes me by surprise and makes me say "Gaaah." (5/05)

Château de Fargues Sauternes 1985 ($35/.375) (Rivers of Liquid Gold I): Medium gold color. Slight burnt-sugar hints to the honeyed orange-rind/creme brulŽe nose. Thick and a bit unsupported in the mouth, seems like it's showing its age. Slightly burnt-sugarish tasting. Weighty, vanilla-honey-orange rind, crisp but not unctuous. Very decent, still not Yquem. (11/05)

Château de Fargues Sauternes 1990 ($30/375 ml.): Pale gold. Apricot & orange marmalade on the nose, with a big splash o'botrytis & butterscotch. A big and lush-smelling young Sauternes, tangy and sweetly viscous in the mouth, more marmaladey than tropical, good strong acidity and a tangy apricot-orange finish. A bigger, more vivid wine than the Suduiraut, younger and more in need of time to settle. (12/24/99)

Château Filhot Sauternes 1981 ($10): Just turning a slightly off-light shade of gold. Light botrytis, vanilla & apricot aromas, very light nose, soft and quiet. A bit more robust on the palate, tangy and fairly woody--fruit seems a bit faded, but there's still some decent pear-apricot notes. Silky and a bit simple, but not bad. (11/99)

Château Gravas Sauternes 2001 ($12/.375) (Boatloads VIII): Happily expressive smellies, pineapple candy, vanilla, touch of flintiness, hint of botrytis, hay. Tastes rich and sweet, glossy-textured and borderline viscous. The acidity is on the spiky side, but does its job sufficiently to keep the midpalate from sticking to the roof of my mouth. Not the most complex or balanced Sauternes, but there's a lot going on and it's cheerful stuff, just shy of being a bit much. [Buy again? Sure thing.] (9/06)

Château Guiraud Sauternes 1988 ($40): Medium-light gold, here's a bit more complexity--botrytis, hay and honey on the nose, along with a slight waxiness. There's oak here too, but it's more integrated with the richer fruit. Balanced and smooth, with a fairly light feel in the mouth. The oak emerges a bit more clearly on the finish, but it's a nice wine. (9/17/99)

Château Guiraud Sauternes 1990 ($25/.375) (All CNN Wines): Extravagant nose, so botrytisy-tropical, rich over the top pineapple-apricot-vanilla-marmalade-cream-hay. Lush tasting, weighty and dense and stacked, with a firm corset of rigid structure to keep the pillowiness in check. Quite sweet, quite crisp. BIG! Honeyed & vanilla-cream soda woody finish Nice, rich, dense. Two bodacious Prongs straining the gold-lamé laces of a Merry Widow. (11/11/01)

Château Lafaurie-Peyraugey Sauternes 1990 ($30): Medium gold; apricot, vanilla and honey on the nose. Bit of woodiness is more pronounced after having the Bonnezeaux, but this is a nice, round, slightly fat style of Sauternes that is friendly when young, and I slurp it down happily with my fruity-crumbly dessert. (10/30/99)

Château Lafaurie-Peyraugey 2001 ($15/.375) (Boatloads III): Yumpin yimminy, smells boisterous, spicy botrytis and vanilla, butterscotch, lemon-cream, coconut, whee, a carnival of nosecandy! A sip, and it's a fat little bugger, very sweet and creamy-plump, all Rubenesque flesh and sweet juiciness, just enough acidity, no focus. Almost Sauternes candy, really a bit over the top for what used to be a fairly restrained producer. What's going on here? I mean, despite myself I kind of like it, especially in small doses, but c'mon--grab the reins, will you please? [Buy again? Maybe one or two, what the hell.] (2/05)

Château Lafon Sauternes 2001 ($10/.375) (Chrid Coad Appreciation Week): I've brought this along because it's my new favorite cheap Sauternes. Spicy, botrytis-laced pineapple-vanilla-butterscotch nose. Quite sweet and viscous, with enough lemony acidity to keep the mouthfeel bright and crisp. Broad and simple and sweet--far from profound, but a decent everyday Sauternes is worth far more to me than endless processions of overpriced gobfests. Has anyone else noticed that the price of Sauternes has gotten crazy lately? My old favorite Rieussec, which a few years ago cost me like thirty-five bucks, is now around $90. What's up with that? Soon it'll be like Port, just price itself right out of the market. Oh well, if there's one thing that market forces teach us, it's that there's always more wine out there. (11/04)

Château Lafon Sauternes 2003 ($11/.375) (Boatloads V): The '01 version was my Sauternes steal of the year for two years running, this may not quite have the same stamina. Smells of ripe pineapple, vanilla, more ripe pineapple, touch of lemon, no botrytis to speak of. A sip, and it's bigger and sweeter and bloppier than the '01, lacking focus and a bit silly. There's enough going on, lots of sugar and flavor, that it's easy to like on a simple level, but all in all rather limp and disappointing. [Buy again? I don't think so, unless I'm desperate some Sunday when the New York stores are closed and Lisa needs a Sauternes fix.] (10/05)

Peter Lehman Semillon Barossa 'Sauternes' 1996 ($10/.375) Nose of honeyed candy, interesting vanilla & spice notes, cloves? orange rind? Anyway, viscous and very sweet in the mouth--a little of this goes a long way! Kind of interesting, but too sweet & syrupy for me, with no real acidity to provide backbone. (3/98)

Peter Lehman Semillon Barossa 'Botrytis' 2001 ($10/.375) (Boatloads II): Medium gold color. Yeah, there's botrytis all right, honey, wax and lemon rind too, as well as a light cantaloupe streak, interesting nose. Tastes big and quite sweet, rather broad and clumsy, with some spiky SweeTart acidity. [Buy again? No.]

Loupiac-Gaudiet Loupiac 1981 (Of Bass and Men): A pale gold wine with a quiet nose, rather sweet and one-dimensional, with a caramel/burnt-sugar note that has one guest wondering if it has been "cooked," but seems to me more a function of an aged wine from a light year. There is no noticeable botrytis character evident but the wine has good balance and enough acidity. Some note the "grilled pineapple" hints, but skeptics say "Decent, but no character, like a generic sweet wine." (2/01)

Château Lousteau-Vieil St. Croix du Mont 1985 (Cellar Gems): Pale straw color; light lemon-apricot-vanilla on the nose; medium to light-bodied, or perhaps it's just a contrast with the colossi that have come before. Light lemony-honey flavors, bit of woodiness emerges on the finish. A light Sauterney-style wine. (10/14/99)

Château de Malle Sauternes 1990 ($30/.375) (Winterfest 2003): Medium gold color. Sweet-smelling and richly aromatic, lots of marmalade-apricot-vanilla smellies. Not unlike the Guiraude--boisterous, big and sweet and somewhat sloppy but also rather charming, like a friendly Labrador. (2/03)

Château de Malle Sauternes 2001 ($15/.375) (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner): Jeez, I'd saved this for later because I'd assumed it would be sweeter than the Doisy-Vedrines. It isn't, although it's significantly more botrytis-marked. A wave of happy rot laced with vanilla, butterscotch and apricot. Quite sweet and rich, although not as plush as the Doisy-Vedrines, with a slightly tart orange-rind/botrytis finish. A vivid young thing, powerully puppyish, generously oaked but also generously everything-elsed. (5/05)

Château Manos Cadillac 2003 ($10/.375) (Boatloads VIII): Quite sulfurous, firecrackery hints, along with a touch of sour milk lacticity. Sweet and richly sugared, with some slightly shrill acidity and lemony-vanilla flavors. Decent, but clumsy and a bit paunchy. [Buy again? Nah.] (9/06)

Oriel Sauternes 'Ondine' 2001 (Unclear Identities): What's up with the funny name? Ondine? Isn't that a play, or a nymph or something? There's a slightly creepy boutiquishness about the label, it has design-class chilliness. The wine itself is more interesting: lightly aromatic, creamy-vanilla, caramel and orange rind hints, smells quite woody, light botrytis (it's either light or hidden behind the carpentry). Lighter-tasting than I thought it would be--loose, creamy and buttery sweet. Decent, easygoing Sauternes. (8/8/04)

Château du Pavillon St. Croix du Mont 1995 (Of Bass and Men): Seems lighter and tighter than the others, a bit young at the moment, with light lemony flavors edged with vanilla. Young, not giving much at the moment, but some note a "hint of pine sap, but not in a Retsina kind of way." (2/01)

Château de Puch Monbazillac 1990 (Super Bowl): Puch, Puch in the buch, goes the familiar refrain as the pale straw-colored Monbazillac makes the rounds. It's aromatically light, lemon and cream, hints of vanilla, no botrytis to speak of. Tastes bright and crisp, on the lean side, lemony-light, with medium-plus sweetness. Simple, friendly, perhaps the best Puch since the '89. (1/22/01)

Château Rabaud-Promis Sauternes 1988 ($50) (Impostors): Medium gold color. Smells nice, orange marmalade, vanilla cream, honey-lemon and light botrytis mingle smoothly in my nostrils. Tastes rich and unctuous, a big, slightly heavy wine that has many things going for it but lacks zing, it's a bit ponderous. Still, a very decent Sauternes with many layers of flavor that is hard to fault for a bit of listlessness. (11/4/00)

Château Rabaud-Promis Sauternes 1988 (Lou Turns the Worm): Rich butterscotch, vanilla and orange rind aromatics, just a hint of botrytis. Tastes broad and developed, big and sweet and unsubtle. Nummy, nice. I like this a lot, maybe more than the others. Why? Because it's tasty, and sweet, and nummy. (10/05)

Château Raymond-Lafon Sauternes 1986 ($50) (New Value Region): Smells quiet and elegant, light pineapple, apricot and creamy vanilla with a dusting of botrytis. A poised, silky-creamy style of Sauternes that has fine cohesion, a whole package, although it's a little sweeter than it needs to be. Still, quite nice. (12/16/01)

Ch‰teau Raymond-Lafon Sauternes 1986 ($50) (Young Turk Meets Old Guard): I've always liked this wine, it's got a bit of everthing and too much of nothing. There's some gentle botrytical smells, apricot-pineapple fruit laced with vanilla-butterscotchiness. Quite sweet but crisp enough, good balance. The texture is what aces it, there's a lovely silkiness, it just glides down the gullet. Quite the foursquare Sauternes, really, I'm liking it very much tonight. (12/05)

Château Rayne-Vigneau Sauternes 1988 ($40) (Bordeaux Bash): Pale straw color... quiet lemon-vanilla-cream nose, no noticeable rot. Tastes medium-sweet, simple and decent, well-balanced and crisp but with little complexity. Quite botrytisless, and even a little would go a long way towards giving this a bit more interest. Still, pleasant, crisp and easy to sip. (12/11/00)

Château Rayne-Vigneau Sauternes 1988 (No Hook): Creamy, light nose, vanilla, orange rind, apricot, hay. Tastes big and rich, pretty sweet, nicely crisp and lightly botrytised. Sauternus Genericus, broad-beamed and friendly, if not terribly poised. Chubby and cheerful stuff that has hit its stride. (6/7/03)

Château Rieussec Sauternes 1988 ($40): Fairly light yellow-gold color; this is, as Mr. Kane might say, 'Killer Stuff.' Bright, spritzy-lush nose of creamy lemon, apricot, hay and a mess o'botrytis. Vibrant smelling and fun to just sit and sniff the tropical-botrytisy aromas. Yum. Now this is tasty, a light and vivid mouthful of flavor, light hints of creamy oak flit about the midpalate, a perfect match with my creme brule. An exciting young Sauternes. (12/12/99)

Château Rieussec Sauternes 1988 (Passages): My notes read as follows:

Super good
I can die now

Understatements, of course, reflective of my pensive mood. This is Hallelujah Chorus wine, just beginning to hit its youthful stride. Sweet, rich, zippily crisp (Yow!), generously but not overbearingly botrytised, there's an orange-rind/pomander spice note beginning to creep into the midpalate. Vivid, creamy-rich and with the stirrings of adolescent development, the bottle is emptied within ninety seconds. Curses, should've leaned into my pour a little more. (4/06)

Château Rieussec Sauternes 1989 ($40): Honeyed, mellony, waxy nose. Tropical fruits, pineapple, pear, figs--full bodied--zing on the tongue, crisp & bright & sweet at the same time. Honeyed candy, perfectly balanced, crisp & intensely perfumed, concentrated, tangy & focused. Wow! This is damn tasty. Lovely botrytis tang. Zingy, thick & crisp. Flavors linger for awhile. Beautiful. (1/5/98)

Château Rieussec Sauternes 1989 ($40) (Swedes Invade): Pale straw-gold. Soft spritzy tropical fruit-hay-botrytis nose. Lemon cream-tinged in the mouth, tangy and elegant. There is a hint of dilution in the midpalate, but that's a quibble for a delicious young Sauternes. The '88 is one of my favorite young Sauternes, and this is slightly smaller and a bit more loosely knit, but equally fine, although a poor match with salty lemon meringue tart. But is there a wine in the world that is a good match with salty lemon meringue tart? A lovely young wine.

Château Rieussec Sauternes 1989 ($40) (Oddball Grapes): Really, it's great great wine, but tonight it's shut down and is just not singing the way it ought. Still, even a muted bottle of this is something special. Hold 'em, kids, let 'em sleep. (7/27/03)

Château Rieussec Sauternes 1990 (Hot Wet Summertime Action): Medium-gold color, orange-amber at the rim. Rich smelling, orange rind and apricot, toasty vanilla-caramel hints and a curiously dark botrytical streak. Big and sweet and glyceriney-rich, the crisp spine holds up the plushness nicely, a size XXL Rieussec. Quite good, but I find it strangely precocious, very orange-rindy, with eyebrow-raising caramel hints. Would that I had someone nearby willing to salt my dessert; I've found that Rieussec always goes very well with generously salted desserts, but no such luck. (6/05)

Château Rieussec Sauternes 1997 ($25/.375) (Rivers of Liquid Gold I): Light gold color. Aromatically shy: cream and butterscotchy hints, orange rind flecks, vanilla, not much botrytis, if any. Quite sweet and big for a Rieussec, a robust, boisterously rich wine that hits three notes pretty well but isn't a patch on the '88-90 trio or the slightly wacky '01. (11/05)

Château Rieussec Sauternes 1998 (McNetta 2002): Medium gold color. Light hints of vanilla, orange rind, firecracker ("like the smoke from firecrackers" says Lisa), butterscotch. Tastes creamy-sweet, pleasant enough, almost no evident botrytis but enough apricot-marmalade-vanilla character to make for a decent baby Sauternes. Well balanced, with the refinement and prettiness that is a hallmark of Rieussec even in weak years. Not a profound wine, it's nevertheless rich and pleasant and layered. (6/02)

Château Roumieu-Lacoste Haut-Barsac 1996 (New Value Region): Simple yellow lemon-pineapple fruit on the nose, no botrytis to speak of. Medium-sweet, light, decent, kind of vague and one-note youngish. Shrug. (12/16/01)

Château Suduiraut Sauternes 1986 ($34.99/375 ml.): Drank with the Pierre-Bise L'Anclaie '96, and boy, what a nice contrast it was; where the former was fresh, young and zingy, the Suduiraut was reserved & complex: light amber-yellow; bright apricot/orange rind notes in the nose, slightly watery in comparison, with the fruit laying back a bit, not so immediate, sweet & modulated. Matte mouthfeel to the Pierre-Bise's gloss; softly flavored, also nicely balanced; tangy orange rind-puree finish. The youth and zing of the Pierre-Bise were hard to resist, but the Suduiraut was the consensus favorite. (5/99)

Château Suduiraut Sauternes 1986 ($35/375 ml.) (Foodies): Medium gold color, smells thickly of marmalade, butterscotch, vanilla and apricot. No botrytis evident, but there's plenty of other nasal action. Gives a nice whomp of orange-rindy/caramel flavors up front, and half delivers the goods in the midpalate, but fades a bit, not much follow-through, and ends in slightly bitter wood tannins. Some good if slightly broad character, pleasant enough to drink but not a complete package. (10/14/01)

Château Suduiraut Sauternes 1989 ($60) (New Value Region): Orange rind, vanilla and apricot on the nose, with minerally bass notes and light but noticeable botrytis singing soprano. Young and woody, with a slight tannic roughness on the finish, more boisterous than the Raymond-Lafon, bigger and broader and more extravagant. There is some heat on the finish but in general I like it more, although some find it clumsy. It's about as sweet as the Raymond-Lafon, but the broader flavors hold the sugar more easily. (12/16/01)

Château Suduiraut Sauternes 1990 ($30/375 ml.): As with every other recent vintage of Suduiraut I've had, this one is fairly deep in color compared to its Sauterney cellarmates, medium gold-amber. Rich, multilayered nose, orange-rind, vanilla-apricot; in the mouth it's sweet and lush, mellow and rich, with a nice orange-caramel-citrus tang in the midpalate and what seem like woody tannins emerging to only slightly bother an otherwise long pleasant finish. Actually drinking fairly smoothly, even at this age. (12/21/99)

Château Suduiraut Sauternes 2001 ($25/.375) (Rivers of Liquid Gold I): Woof--heaps o' lemon-pineapple, hay and vanilla just swarm my nostrils; resistance is useless! Very big--creamy-sweet and viscous, bordering on syrupy, maybe a bit much, although there's a firm acidic spine under there somewhere struggling mightily to keep things on track. The wine is botrytisy, but not botrytis-soaked like a few other '01s I've had lately. It veers towards over-the-topness, only veering away from the cliff's edge at the last minute in a tropical-vanilla dust cloud. I like it, but it needs some time to calm down, I think. Or fall apart, who knows, its so topheavy. A curious Suduiraut, lots of complexity, lots of sugar, lots of flavor, rather goofy: a clown car of a wine. (11/05)

Château Tirecul La Graviere Monbazillac 1996 (NJers): Pale gold color; bright, lush nose--plenty of apricot, vanilla & botrytis to go around, although maybe more vanilla than I'd have preferred. It's a big-tasting wine, rich and sweet and boisterous, with lots of nice curves and a supple spine. Finishes with some slightly off-putting woody tannins, but that's a quibble, as I like the wine. (1/23/00)

Château la Tour Blanche Sauternes 1990 ($65) (Yo-ho for Pinot): Medium gold. Very rich smelling; honey, botrytis, butterscotch, vanilla, apricot all rolled up into a creamy package. A sip, and it's big and fat, viscous and thick with creamy orange rind-apricot-vanilla-tinged fruit. The mouthfeel is very close to being flabby, but it skates jauntily away from the edge. Big & blowsy and loosely-knit, I don't think this has the structure to go the long haul, but it's fun and rich for drinking now. (3/19/00)

Château la Tour Blanche Sauternes 2003 (Birthday Engorgement): Very sweet and viscous, pineapple and white honey. Rather shy of spine and maybe a bit oversweet, but happily over the top and extravagant. Not much botrytis, but robust fruitbowl aromatics laced with vanilla bean work pretty well for me. Big, silly shar-pei Sauternes, the folds of puppyfat all but overwhelming the wine underneath. (6/06)

Château de Violon Sauternes 2001 ($10/.375 ml.) (Drunken Hawaiian Holidays): Pale lemon-straw color. Smells of plastic wrap and lemon cream, tastes light, lemony, simple. Thin, semi-pleasant and delicately sweet, a lean, Sauternes Lite kind of wine that strolls across my palate without leaving so much as a single footprint. (5/03)

Château d'Yquem Sauternes 1959 (Best Wife):. Medium gold at the heart, ambering out substantially towards the rim. Whoo, smells rich and slightly exotic, honey and orange rind laced with vanilla bean are the first things that come out, then hints of toasted marshmallow, hayloft and some spicy pomander hints. Tastes quite sweet and rich, again it's the slightly candied orange rind tanginess that comes at me right off, followed by a warm sweet wave of spiced honeyness laced with pressed-flower spicy-earthy flavors. Turns toasty-orange rindy again on the finish, the muted citrus notes slowly fading, last as they were first. Big and vivid but strikingly refined; well-seasoned all around the edges but tinklingly youthful at the heart, a Gene Kelly of a wine. It's no '59 Huet, but for a sweet sauvignon/semillon it's pretty darn nice, a real overachiever. (9/03)

Château d'Yquem Sauternes 1988 ($325)(Scraps): Lisa's hidden this one and pours it for me blind, and I startle her by calling it the minute it hit my nose (I got lucky with the year). Really, though, it's hard to mistake a wine that so invariably gets me giggling and muttering little happy noises to myself. Here there be gobs. Rich, sensuous aromas, velvety cream custard, vanilla, hay, botrytis, orange rind and honey, more stuff I can't think of now in the first flush of love. A sip, and when it hits the tip of my tongue I feel it in the soles of my feet: thick and concentrated, almost oily, but wonderfully crisp and impeccably balanced, ftes and fireworks in my mouth. Tongue-coatingly rich and crazily flavorful yet impossibly elegant and reserved: a paradox. Awe-inspiring, the wine I want to drink on my deathbed. (3/01)

Château d'Yquem Sauternes 1990 ($110/.375 ml) (Guess Who's Coming to Guzzle): Medium gold color, smells rich and round and pleasantly wacky. Big honey-vanilla, singed coconut, apricot, light botrytis, mandarin orange, lemon. Tastes big and rich, quite sweet and creamy. There's good acidity but also a soft blanket of baby fat, and a sense of broadness as well, it's a wide wide wine. It's too cohesive to be clumsy, but there are gaps between the flavors, seems like it needs a lot of time. A little more botrytis emerges on the finish, but so does more butterscotchy woodiness. A big, impressive young Sauternes that's fascinating for its substantiality and heft, an imposing wine that disappears awfully quickly. (7/4/04)

Sweet Riesling

Friedrich Baumann Riesling Oppenheimer Sacktrager Beerenauslese 1985 ($30/.375)(Farewell My Lovely): Warm ripe mangoes in a stone bowl, hints of orange rind, very fruity, no overt gasoline. Jen is relieved, as she usually isn't a big fan of typical gasoliney rieslings. "Fruuuuuuiiit..." she sighs. Tastes yellow-brown, light caramel, medium-plus sweetness, plenty of spine, rich and glyceriney and nicely developed. Tasty stuff. (6/01)

Bedell Cellars Riesling North Fork of Long Island Late Harvest 2000(NEVER Say 'Spit'): Quite fragrant, baked apple pie spice, golden raisin and a touch of lemon zest. A sip, and it's weighty and sweet, almost goopy. The acidity is there, but after the first couple of sips it's just too thick for me, albeit quite flavorful and expressive. Others like it more, but others aren't writing this, are they? (4/03)

Belle Pente Winery Riesling Willamette Valley Vendange Tardive 2002 ($18/.375 ml) (Oregon): From thirty-five year old vines. Bright and tropical smelling, pineapple and white grapefruit, whiteflowers and lime zest. Sweet, crisp and juicy-fruity, relatively lightweight but very flavorful. Not a wine with great depth, but happily fresh and flickery-complex enough to keep me sipping happily away. There's apparently a good dose of botrytis, but it's not really manifesting itself in a way that I can sense. (5/04)

Belle Pente Winery Riesling Willamette Valley Vendange Tardive 2002 ($18/.375 ml) (Memorial Day): A breath of cool mountain air after the sticky-brown Dal Forno. Pale and light, smelling of peaches and rainwater, with a hint of lime zest. This comes off a little more citric than the last few bottles, lemon and grapefruit notes surfacing in the middle and lingering on the finish, but it's the same lightly sweet, lacy wine. Fresh and crystalline stuff, a little diffuse and lightweight but quite charming. (5/31/04)

Belle Pente Winery Riesling Willamette Valley Vendange Tardive 2002 ($18/.375 ml) (Liberation Celebration): Yikes, this has aged with the rapidity of... um, something that ages fairly rapidly. Honeyed orange with a touch of vinyl where a couple years ago it was pineapple-whiteflowery. With age has come a bit more substance, it seems less ethereal, although conversely more earthbound. Medium-sweet, still has nice balance, drink up like we did. (11/6/05)

Beringer Johannisberg Riesling California Late Harvest 1993: Dark gold-amber; orange-rind and honey on the nose; Yow, this is just sweet as hell and gloppy as pancake syrup. Man. No discernable acidity to swim against the tide of all that gooey sweetness. Phew. Tiring. (9/17/99)

Beringer Johannisberg Riesling California Late Harvest 1993 (VS Eats at Joe's): Deep brown-orange color spritzy apricot-honey nose. Sweet as all hell, viscous and goopy, but, unlike the last time I had this, this bottle seems to have some small amount of acidity. Still not enough, mind, you, but last time I had this I thought it was like drinking pancake syrup. Victor, tasting some of this and having to listen to everyone bitch about it, scolds the assembled geeks for being too picky and is met only with plaintive 'would you scold a fish for being too wet?' looks. (11/7/99)

Dönnhoff Riesling Niedesheimer Hermanshohle Auslese 2001 ($35/.375) (Island Jeeb): Mmmm, smells lusciously tropical, an island fruit salad of mango, guava and lilikoi with an underlying minerality. A sip, and it's quietly stony and tight in the piehole at first, but blossoms in the middle, the rich fruit and medium-light sweetness opening up just enough to let you see the potential here. A smooth, harmonious wine of great character with a sense of fun. Fine, fine stuff. (3/23/03)

Fritz Haag Riesling Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Auslese 1989 (Stupid Fizzies): Doesn't smell like much of anything, touch of mineral, hint of lemon. Tastes quite dry for an auslese, and almost fruitless. Very little character: vague, pallid and disappointing. (9/14/03)

Fritz Haag Riesling Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Auslese 1992 (No Hook): Medium straw color, golding in the center. Lots of kerosene here, yellow apple base, pine needles above and light minerals below. Medium sweet and lacking in focus, rather vague in the middle, but smooth, easygoing and layered, a pleasantly complex little sipper. (6/7/03)

Joseph 'La Magia' Botrytis Riesling Edna Valley 1996 ($18/375 ml)(Kaneturbury Tales): Pale gold; odd nose--botrytis and plastic. Very sweet, with some acidity, but not enough. Caramel cream, apple flavors, glyceriney mouthfeel, actually okay by me except for that annoying plastic note in the nose.

Kloster Machern Wehlener Abtei Riesling Eiswein 1989 (Ferality): Sweet stony-honey nose; on first sip--sweet fancy Moses, this just dives right under my tongue and squeezes--minerals, apricot, honey and gland-pinching acidity. Medium-thick and smoothly fruity, but just too shrill. I keep tasting and tasting this one, not sure if I like it or not. It has a lot of character, but I just can't take the acidity. My tongue is cringing even now as I type, just thinking about it. (9/99)

Dr. Loosen Riesling Ürziger Würzgarten Auslese 1992 (Peach Tree Vines): Medium straw-gold color. Smells of lamp oil, mango and apicot-lemon. Medium sweet, with an interesting coppery quality emerging in the middle to mingle with the mango-apricot-kerosene. Good crispness, nice cohesion, in a content

Dr. Loosen Riesling Ürziger Würzgarten Auslese 1994 (Winterfest 2003): Pale gold color. Smells lightly vinylish, hints of ripe mango and apricot. A sip, and it's lightly petillant and there's only a light sweetness, dry for an Auslese. Maybe just a bit too puckery-crisp, this has the beginnings of complexity, turns honeyed on the subtle finish. Quite pleasant, if a little sharp. (2/03)

Meulenhof Riesling Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese 1999 (Muscajeeb): Smells of almost-ripe mango, tart yellow appleskin and honey-drizzled beanbag chair. Tart yellow fruit comes at you right up front, then fades and spreads. Sweet and watery in the middle, rather dull. (11/10/02)

Egon Muller Riesling Wiltingen Brane Kupp Auslese 1976 (15 Fox Place): Medium gold color. Smells of light honey, whiff of kerosene, yellow apple. Tastes very relaxed, sweet and calm and soothing, with medium-low but still sprightly acidity. The taste of honey blooms with the lemony sweetness in the middle and lingers luxuriantly on the finish. A pretty wine, langorous and whispery-decadent, that just keeps unfolding, taking its sweet time. (3/22/04)

Müller-Catoir Riesling Musbacher Eselhaut Eiswein 1998 (Beaucoin Revisited): Dancingly tropical aromatics, pineapple-mango, apricot and rainwater. Quite lush and sweet, but balanced by a bracing supporting acidity. Young and primary, but delightfully fruity and rich. Brilliant, fine and purely tropical, a beauty. (3/7/04)

Navarro Vineyards White Riesling Anderson Valley Late Harvest 1998. Whoo, ripe pineapple-vinyl-mango-lilikoi aromatics, tropical fruit salad city. Quite sweet but not at all goopy, there's middling acidity, not as much as I'd like, but the wine is far from flabby. Actually, it tastes rather restrained compared to the boisterous aromatics, and it's pretty smooth and drinkable, if rather diffuse. Not bad at all, really. I could drink this, it's kind of fun. A pleasant pairing with apricot tart. (10/04)

Weingut K. Neckerauer Riesling Pfalz Weisenheimer Hasenzeile Beerenauslese 1994 (Fear and Braising in New Jersey): Oh, a weisenheimer, eh? Nyuck nyuck nyuck. Medium gold-amber color. Caramelized sugar on the nose, touch of botrytis, apricot, marmalade. Tastes quite crisp, medium-sweet or maybe just a shade sweeter than medium, medium-plus. Tartly acidic and gently decayed, pleasantly developed but not terribly complex. Kane complains that it's not more botrytisy and I argue with him for form's sake, but he's got a point, something that would be overlooked if there were more going on. (10/04)

Nigl Riesling Beerenauslese 1998 ($60) (MoJoe): A blizzard of tartrate crystals in the bottle, looks like a snow globe has been poured into the riesling. A sniff, and ye gods, a festival of botrytis and borderline-wacky tropical fruit aromas begins a conga line in my nose. Spicy hay, mango, pineapple, lemon, all bound up in light vinyl siding. A sip, and it's Yellow Submarine in my mouth, vivid colors and bright shapes, crazily dense and botrytised, Mr. Coad's wild ride. A moment later I'm deposited back in my chair, but I immediately get in line for another ride. Quite breathtaking in an over-the-top way, very sweet but still crisp and light on its feet, a beautiful match with Laura's plum tart. Exciting wine. Two crystal Prongs swathed in bolts of canvas, one of which is covered with signed drawings of Ralph Steadman and one of which has some kind of a Mondrian knockoff on it, the whole arrangement set on a wide hardwood base that has been rubbed down with ambergris and myrrh, then baked in a brick oven until it bursts into all-consuming flames. (9/23/02)

Petaluma Botrytis Riesling Essence 1985 (Cab Franc Blowout+): Dark amber, bordering on brown-orange; orange marmalade is the first thing that strikes you on the nose, then mineral/wet stone notes with a slight metallic edge. On the palate sweet as all hell (45% residual sugar!), very dense & viscous--like syrup. Lovely tastes of caramel & vanilla & orange rind & that sort of boysenberry botrytis taste that I haven't pegged properly; there's enough acidity to make it not cloy, but just barely. (3/7/99)

J.J. Prum Riesling Wehlehner Sonnenuhr Beerenauslese 1976 (Rejeebus): Medium gold color. Light hints of very ripe mango, turpentine, orange marmalade and butterscotch. A sip, and it's densely flavored, quite sweet and a little bit fizzy. Brisk but not sharp acidity, layers of flavors, lots going on. Actually, the slight fizz helps add to the sense that the wine is light on its feet. After the Choufleur this is a model of cohesion. Very nice, and a thumb in the eye of those who say there's no point aging riesling. (7/21/02)

Paumanok Riesling North Fork of Long Island Late Harvest 1993 (Wasted Hours): Medium gold color, smells of sweet apple candy, green-apple Jolly Ranchers, with hints of vinyl, apricot and orange marmalade. A sip, and some tangy apple-apricot fruit comes on strong, then simply evanesces like fog in sunlight, leaving a neutral thick texture behind. Somewhat goopy and thick in the mouth, quite sweet and a bit simple, but pleasant enough until the fruit pulls a disappearing act. (7/15/00)

Ratzenberger Riesling Steeger St. Jost Auslese 1993 (Pigfest): makes an appearance. Quiet pineapple/yellow apple aromatics, glazed with lamp oil. Tastes gentle and medium-sweet at most, with a mellow minerality rising briefly in the middle, then sinking under whispery yellowfruit on the prefinish. Yeah, it's pretty decent, if a bit undereverythinged. (1/06)

Chateau St. Michelle Riesling Columbia Valley Horse Heaven Vineyard Chateau Reserve Late Harvest 1993 (Swedes Invade): Pale amber. Light vinyl and proto-gasoline notes hover over shy honeyed apple-peach fruit, aromatically light. Very sweet and thick, with hints of orange rind saying hello in the midpalate. Almost goopy, with some pointy unintegrated acidity running parallel to the thick sweetness. (3/24/00)

Weingut Schneider Merler-Königslay-Terrassen Beerenauslese 1976: Deep amber, heading towards orange; sprightly nose--kerosene, honey-mango, caramel. Crisp and sweet, nicely balanced, although perhaps a little tired, with a slight bitter tang on the finish. This is a very decent wine, although the fruit fades quickly. (9/99)

Allan Munro Scott 'Autumn' Riesling Marlborough 1999 (Return to Kane Manor): Pale straw-gold color. Sweet honey & lemon nose, yellow apple flavors peep through the sweetness when I sip this. Quite sweet, a bit low acid but seems extravagant and syrup-thick after the faded Baumard. The fruit is bright and tangy, though, and it's amiable stuff. (6/10/00)

Bert Simon Riesling Serrig Herrenberg Auslese 1989 (Summer Mishmash): Pale straw-lemon, looks quite young. Smells of lemon and kerosene, tastes lean, lemony and straightforward. A bright wine that's strikingly young and tight, with just a bit of lamp-oil aroma to give its age away. Good, crisp riesling, not quite medium-sweet, refreshing and well-built, but without a great deal of complexity. (4/03)

Thirty Bench Riesling Icewine Niagara Peninsula 1995 (Canadians Invade): Gold-amber color; vivid, rich apricot-mango (or is that the mango in my hard-won fruit tart?) nose, with a hint of what? acetone? that makes Tom worry that this is a slightly off bottle. No matter, it's awfully tasty. Very sweet--no, make that supersweet, with loads of zingy acidity to keep the viscous mouthfeel from cloying. A rich mouthful that turns into another empty bottle in record time. (8/27/99)

Hermann Wiemer Johannisburg Riesling Finger Lakes Late Harvest 1999(Viva Mexico!): Pale. Crisp green apple and beanbag chair hints upon first smellage. A taste, and you get more of the same, medium sweetness over a minerally streak that surfaces in the midpalate and carries through nicely into the finish and beyond. A little short on concentration, but pretty nice all in all. (3/01)


L. Aubry Fils Champagne Le Nombre d'Or 1996 (Stupid Fizzies): Fizzy, acidity, light minerals. Lean, crisp and ungiving. I just can't hear what this wine is saying, because it seems to me it's not saying anything. Jay is serving his trademark cheezy poofs, so I just put my glass down, walk away and don't look back. (9/14/03)

L. Aubry Fils Champagne Le Nombre d'Or 1997 (Stupid Fizzies): Smells a bit oxidized, flattened-out lemon and baked apple underlaid with toasty bakery aromas. There's a slight bitter streak in the middle and some jarring toasty notes running alongside a light lemoniness. Odd, disjointed. What to make of this? (9/14/03)

Domaine Barmès Beucher Cremant d'Alsace Brut NV (New Wine Achievers): Medium straw-tan color, and it's got bubbles. Bubbles, you hear, bubbles! Smells lightly smoky and lightly yeasty-bready, with a foundation of yellow apple-accented fruit, with flinty undertones and smoky overtones, as well as light buttery hints, all in a fairly reserved package. Very fine tiny bubbles make me feel fine, tastes tangy and quite smoky-tart at first, lean, but a bit more light creaminess fills in through the midpalate, lean yellow fruit, tangy, smoky, very decent, with a bit of an edge. (7/00)

E. Barnaut Champagne Rosé Authentique NV (Foodies 2): This wine is a startling shade of magenta. Smells juicy and lightly berried, watermelon, cherry hints. Tastes rounded after the sharp Billiot, with large-bore bubbles accenting the berry-citrus flavors. Rather limpid, the red and yellowfruit flavors that come at you at first just roll over and cease somewhere in the middle, finishing with a light cherried bleat. An odd wine, too strange to figure out on short notice. I don't really like it, but I don't really dislike it either. Incomplete. (2/03)

Domaine des Baumard Vouvray Petillant Turquois NV ($20) (Cape Mayhem): Fizzy and lean and stony, a wine with an edge that washes away the road dust nicely but whose leanness doesn't bear a lot of scrutiny. (5/25/01)

Francoise Bedel Champagne 'Entre Ciel et Terre' Brut NV (Liberation Celebration): Vigorously frothy, smells gingercreamy and chalky, hints of citrus. A sip, and it's applefruity and friendly, plush and forwardly fruited right up front, happy plump middle, finishes with a light snicker of breadiness. Nice, fun stuff, rich and full flavored, Champagne for the common man. (11/6/05)

Bellavista Franciacorta Brut NV ($25)(Swedes Invade): Pale straw color, very light. Bright yellow-apple nose with bready-yeasty hints, fresh and pleasant. Light and flavorful to taste, tangy and crisp with a hint of creaminess, a light but bright little bubbly that goes down easily and finishes with an appley tang. Not profound, but a very drinkable and friendly glass of fizz.

Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Reserve NV ($25) (Foodies): Very quiet nose, traces of yeast, chalk and faint gingery-yellow fruit. Tastes rather neutral, middling acidity, decent sustain of what little is there, light tickly finish. Doesn't leave much of an impression. (10/14/01)

Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Reserve NV ($25) (The New Year, With Bordeaux): It's more aromatically reticent than the Billiot, there's some light chalkiness as well as a yeasty-biscuitty streak laced with a pronounced flintiness. Tastes compact, more towards an elegant style, but also leaner and more neutral, less sloppily affectionate. The aromatic flintiness is reflected in a flinty flavor on the finish, one I could do without. Not bad, but I prefer the Billiot. (12/31/05)

H. Billiot & Fils Champagne Brut 1990 (Longest Night): Pale lemon-gold, lots of bubbles. Smells biscuitty. Tastes tangy and biscuitty, a touch off-dry. Nice balance, nice biscuits. Good enough, but leaves me a little cold. (12/31/00)

H. Billiot Fils Champagne Brut Millésime 1995 (Muscajeeb): It's a medium-pale straw-gold color. Smells of toasted biscuits, cream soda and lemon-ginger, layered and complex up the nose. A sip, and it's got a good head of fizz, nice density and weight, plenty of creamy pear-lemon biscuitty fruit flavors that ebb and flow in the mouth with the wavelength of the bubbles. I'm not a big fizzicist, but this is delightful stuff, and I happily take a fifth and sixth glassful (rarely will I ever have more than four glasses of any one bubbly, especially at the beginning of an evening). Plus, the label proudly declares that it's "100% Grand Cru!" (11/10/02)

H. Billiot & Fils Champagne Brut Millésime 1996 (Foodies 2): Medium straw-gold color, smells lightly biscuitty and quiet, traces of apple and ginger. A sip, and it's intensely fizzy, with yellow apple flavors but green apple acidity lightly dusted with bakery aromas. Rather aggressive in the piehole, it's a tightly-wrapped glass of bubbly, a little intense for me right now. Quite a contrast from the more easygoing '95; let it sleep. (2/03)

H. Billiot & Fils Champagne Brut Reserve NV (Foodies): A biscuity mouthful of fizz, broadly toasty-bready and well balanced, an unsubtle yet perfectly amiable and full-flavored glass of bubbly. (10/14/01)

H. Billiot & Fils Champagne Brut Reserve NV (The New Year, With Bordeaux): smelling gently yellow-appley, nice biscuitty notes, boisterously fizzy. Tastes bright and broad and quite pleasantly unsubtle, a rather puppyish glass of bubbly that hangs together well and lets you know it appreciates you. Good boy, good fizz! I prefer my Champagne on the robust side, this hits the spot. (12/31/05)

H. Billiot & Fils Champagne Brut Rosé NV (MartyParty): Pale salmon color. Lightly fizzy, smells lightly toasty-biscuitty, but there's also some strawberry-cherry and lemon flavors mixed in there. Asher calls it "Punk kiwi juice." I'm quite fond of this, it's really very tasty and flavorful, almost at the level of a simpler version of the Renardat-Fâche Bugey Cerdon. Jay says something about these people not putting their wines through malo, but soon notices my eyes glazing over and desists with the techno-geek talk. (2/28/04)

Bollinger Champagne La Grande Année 1990 ($45): Darker than the Dom, richer, bigger, creamier nose--creme soda, hint of orange rind. Very crisp, with some sharp acidity that is balanced by the wine's size. Toastier baked-bread aromas, bit of nuttiness, chalky limestone minerality. Yum. I like this one better for its rough richness, although it's not nearly as refined and silky-elegant as the Dom. A manly brew. (9/99)

Bollinger Champagne La Grande Année 1995 ($75) (Stupid Fizzies): Smells toasty and biscuit-yeasty with hints of cream soda, rich and boisterously aromatic. Rich and expansive and slightly hamfisted, there's lots of almondish and bakery flavors, a light lemony-minerality underneath. Robust bubbly, it doesn't seem to go over terribly well with the finesse crowd. I've always been rather partial to this wine when in the company of other Champagne, mostly because it actually tastes like something. Camblor calls it "A sloppy kiss of a wine," and that's about right. Still, I enjoy it more than I am willing to say aloud and keep sneaking back to it when no one's looking. (9/14/03)

Patrick Bottex Vin du Bugey Cerdon "La Cueille" NV (Birthday Engorgement): Fizzy, sweet and simple, Kool-Adey kind of stuff, pleasant and fun but lacking even the easygoing complexity of the Renardat-F‰che. Still, it's a happy quaffing fizz, hard to dislike. (6/06)

Reichsrat von Buhl Weissburgunder Pfalz Sekt Dosage Zero 1999 (15 Fox Place): Smells warmly floral, yellow pear, white flowers and minerals, touch of creaminess. Tastes smooth, very smooth: creamy fizzy-pear fruit up front, tart yellow apple and yeasty bakery hints emerging in the middle. Lovely and seamless, a pure wine that makes me wonder what I've been missing by ignoring German fizzies. A birthday gift from a chick sommelier pal, this is sweetly subtle and charming stuff. (3/22/04)

Brewer-Clifton Blanc de Noirs Santa Maria Highlands 2000(Thoresa): A gamy gunpowdery streak on the nose above a core of cream soda smellies. Spends its bubbles all at once, going flat quickly. Creamy and limpid, blunt mouthfeel and there's that firecrackery note again on the finish. Odd, not very pleasant. (10/7/01)

Bründlmayer Brüt 1995 (Joao/Kansas): Pale straw-tan wine with light butter-butterscotchy-bready notes on the nose, and a creamy apple juice & pear taste, a bit round, with a hint of sweet oxidation, more like a creamy white burg with bubbles than a typical blanc de blanc. Interesting and very sippable (for a chardonnay), although there is some feeling that this bottle isn't showing the zing that others have. (3/2/00)

Champalou Vouvray Brut NV ($14) (Eve of Chenin/Day of Satan): Exuberantly frothy bubbly. Smells like tart yellow apples with a hint of chamomile. Tastes bright, simple, crisp. Decent party fizz. (12/31/03)

Chidaine Montlouis Brut 1996 ($14) (Return to Kane Manor): Very pale and lightly fizzy, minerally-bready smelling, tastes lean, tight and racy. Very mineral-driven and lean and crisp, a bright, tight delight that doesn't have a wasted ounce of fat on it. I find it lean and tight and a bit ungiving, but am at odds with some of the other Supergeeks, who claim that it is sublime. (6/10/00)

Chidaine Montlouis Brut 1996 ($14) (Super Jeebus): This has loosened up a little since last I sucked it down. It's now a smooth, slightly rounded glass of crisp fizz, with a slight waxiness and a dash of polleny yellowflowerishness. Not terribly layered, it's nevertheless a clean and crisp glass of bubbly that goes down easily. (1/22/01)

Francois Chidaine Montlouis Brut NV ($15) (Broken Rules): All chalk, pollen and honey, the usual suspects. It's beautiful as always, pure and taut, with a waxy midpalate heft that mingles with an eager frothiness for an attention-getting mix of focus and friendliness. (11/04)

Gaston Chiquet Blanc de Blancs d'Ay Champagne Brut NV (Lucid Jeebusing): Happily bubbly and biscuitty/bosc-pearish in the nostrils. Yeasty-toasty at first, in the middle the minerals and tart pear fruit comes to the fore and wave shyly. I actually enjoy this more when all the bubbles have effervesced out of the wine, as it has a stony Chabliseque air about it and the biscuitty quality fades into the background. Quite nice, defying the odds of being a) fizzy and b) chardonnay. Five crudely-carved granite Prongs rolled in a mix of breadcrumbs and white flour, then baked for fifteen minutes at 350 degrees, allowed to cool, dusted with talcum powder and placed on a small, smoothly polished cherrywood base. (2/02)

Cloudy Bay 'Pelorus' Sparkling Wine Marlborough 1995 ($20)(Yo-ho for Pinot): Medium tan color, looks a bit odd. There is a strange cheesiness to the nose, in the mix with yeasty-almond notes. Very little overt fruit, tan-tasting and lightly creamy. Connell takes a sip and says "Do you have a bucket?", Dressner can only mutter a puzzled "Arrr?" and Jayson quickly points out that his last bottle was showing much better. I've always liked Cloudy Bay wines (authentic, inoculated and enzymed or not), but this is weird and fruitless and could certainly be damaged a damaged specimen. (3/19/00)

Contine Riouolo Prosecco Veneto NV ($9) (Boatloads II): Lightly sweet and fizzy, rather broad mouthfeel, yellow pear, touch of yeastiness, bit of white grapefruit citricity. Rather clumsy but decently fizzy and friendly-sweet. Nothing subtle here, just a decent little fizz. Very easygoing and amiable, not a challenging bone in its body, all party. [Buy again? Yes.]

Cousin-Leduc Saumur Brut NV (Doghead All Grown Up): Friendly, biscuit-chalky, frothy. 'Very nice' is what I remember, my notes are stained with what looks like vindaloo and give few hints. (11/04)

Egly-Ouriet Brut Cuvée Non Dosé Ambonnay NV (Return to Kane Manor): Pale straw-tan color, big and toasty-smelling, rich and slightly applejuicey-toasty, a slightly oxidative style of fizz, with bakery aromas. There's some big rich blunt toasty-pear walnut-tinged fruit, seems muted, as if it has a bit of age on it. Very big-boned and rich, although the toasty-walnut flavors sometimes threaten to overwhelm all else. (6/10/00)

Egly-Ouriet Champagne 1997 (Stupid Fizzies): Big bubbles. Airy, rainwatery aromas, bit of lemon cream. Tastes light and lacy, a little watery in the middle. Not much here, but not in any way disagreeable. (9/14/03)

Casa Vinicola Fay "Dreifs" Brut NV (Hot Wet Summertime Action): Is that word 'dreifs' or 'dreiss' or something else entirely? It's hard to read the label, sweat is making my eyes sting. Anyway, the wine is boisterously fizzy, chalky-smelling, with light yeasty hints. Tastes crisp and stony, with a light creaminess. Not terribly complex, but pure and bright and charming and (most importantly) cold. (6/05)

Foreau/Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Brut NV ($20) (Longest Night): Another lightly fizzy wine, this one is much richer in the nostrils than the Huet, chalky and waxy-yellowfruity, minerals wrapped with yellow apple and pear. Richly fruity, more of everything than the Huet, the wine is still tangy and balanced and quite deep. A joy. (12/31/00)

Foreau/Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Petillant Brut Reserve 1995 ($27) (McNetta 2002): I get an odd hint of bug spray at first; odd that is until I realize that there is a substantial amount of OFF on many of the geeks now in close quarters. Anyway, smells of chalk, lemon and stones with a whiff of yeastiness. Lightly moussed, it tastes tight, young and in need of a decade or two. There's whiplike strength here, mostly hidden now. More tightly wrapped than Foreau's NV fizz, deeper and harder. An impressive glass of bubbly, great potential here. (6/02)

Foreau/Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Brut Reserve 1995 ($25) (Sleeping Cats): After the elegant Laurent-Perrier and the brawny Selosse this is yet another variation on a theme--nervy, taut and whiplike bubbly. There's the requisite chalk and rocks, light flecks of lemon zest, hint of frothy yeastiness. Lots of depth, but it's very tight, rather hard, needs a lot of time. (9/17/02)

Foreau/Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Brut Reserve 1995 ($25) (Fear and Braising in New Jersey): into his all-too-punctual hand. Haven't checked back with this bubbly in a few years, let's see... breathe, don't forget to breathe. Medium-light straw-gold color, finely and effusively fizzy. Lots of chalk and lemon-quince in the nose. Tight, almost puckery acidity, deep mineral-laced flavors, a lovely combination of substantiality counterbalanced by fizziness, still fairly young and taut, but very pleasing. Probably needs another decade before it begins to really hit its stride, but it's deep and bright and young tonight. (10/04)

Gatinois Champagne Brut N.V. (Stupid Fizzies): Smells of almonds, lightly toasted almonds. Easy and smooth, touch of sweetness, decent enough, I suppose. Shrug. (9/14/03)

Paul Georg Champagne Brut Rosé NV (Eve of Chenin/Day of Satan): Pale salmon color, boisterous big bubbles. Smells flinty, cherries and talc, with an undersmellage of stoniness. This is the kind of oafish, unsubtle Champagne that I'm rather partial to, plus it's a rosé so it actually tastes like something. Flavorful and fun fizz, we toast in 2004 as the Manhattan skies light up with fireworks. I call my mom and hold the phone out the window so she can hear the booms. (12/31/03)

Glenora Methode Champenoise Brut Sparkling Wine Finger Lakes 1995 ($10)(Finger Lakin' Good): Pale amber color; light nose, with some bready and appley hints, seems very lightly carbonated. Very light and vague in the mouth, fairly neutral in character, some light fruit, decently crisp acidity. A pleasant enough little sparkler. (62% pinot noir, 38% chardonnay)This is noted as a good QPR bubbly, selling for around $10. (12/8/99)

Gran Juvé y Campa Cava Brut NV (Birthday Engorgement): Smells of Lemon PledgeŞ, vinyl and creamed yeast. Just a bit fizzy, light petillance, tastes gently creamy and straightforward. A bit uninspiring, but relatively cheerful and inoffensive. Spanish Prosecco? (6/06)

Gratien & Meyer Saumur Cuvée Flamme NV (Chrid Coad Appreciation Week): Salmon-pink color, frothily fizzy. Fun, innocuously flavorful bubbly. Not a lot of depth or cut, but cheerful and friendly. (11/04)

Gruet Winery 'Millennium' Albuquerque Sparkling Wine 2000 (Island Jeeb): Quite toasty-smelling, flinty burnt-brioche hints, vanilla and light buttery pear. Frothy and bright, it's got a creamy, substantial mouthfeel (blanc de blancs?), more poached pear fruit in the middle, good acidity. Pretty good, a weighty but smooth wine with a toasty finish. Not subtle or terrifically complex, but a nice combination of flavors in a well-made, cohesive package, very drinkable. Good on New Mexico! (3/23/03)

Heidseck Brut Rosé 1985 (Manuel and Josie): Full and rich; pale salmon color, tangy and crisp but with a creamy, toasty mouthfeel. Plenty of cherry-tinged flavors in the midpalate, maybe an earthy/mushroomy hint in the mix, all in a base of creamy yellow-brown fruit. Nice, layered fizz with a lot going on. (4/23/00)

L'Hereu de Raventos i Blanc Cava Brut NV (Never Do What We Have Done): Lightly stony aromatics, hint of almond. Pleasant, frothy and bright. No great depth, just hints of complexity, but friendly and mouthclearing squeaky-dry fizz. (8/05)

Huet Vouvray Petillant Demi-Sec 1964 (All CNN Wines): Medium to medium light gold color. Warm yellow-brown honeyed nose. Smells great, lemon-pollen and wax. Tastes crisp and lean, sharp and not as rich as the nose suggests at first, the upfront hard edges growing a velvety skin as they surge through the midpalate, finishing with a feathered flurry of earthy-mineral layers. Very lightly fizzy, very nice to smell, a bit lean to drink. Lisa brought this home from a night out on the town somewhere, perhaps it was better freshly opened. (11/11/01)

Huet Vouvray Petillant 1987 ($55) (Super Jeebus): Delightfully layered and complex aromas, hints of tea, lemon, lightly singed bread and a rich truffley-earthy streak mixing with the usual minerality--there is much offering up and revealing going on here; first the wine offers up some pretty smells, then it reveals more pretty smells, finally blooming into utter and complete pretty-smellishness. Light in body but intensely flavorful, I sit and quietly enjoy as the flavors swirl and flicker in my mouth like fireflies. (1/22/01)

Huet Vouvray Petillant 1995 ($18) (Geekfest): Light appley, bready nose; touch of sweetness at first, but not at all in an unpleasant way, along with light peach & pear notes. Light & flavorful, very refreshing. (6/99)

Huet Vouvray Petillant 1997 ($20)(Manuel and Josie): This wine is, strangely enough, quite minerally. Who would figure? Despite the warnings I've heard about sparkling Vouvray being a dumping ground for troubled grapes, this is good stuff--very pale color, light in the mouth, crisp and racy, chalky-lemony (more chalk, less lemon than the 95), a good bright, tight mouthful. (4/23/00)

Huet Vouvray Petillant 1997 ($20)(Huet-a-Thon): This has truly shifted gear since I last had it a sixmonth or so ago, when it was lean and minerally and a bit stern. Now it has opened and loosened quite strikingly, so much so that I let out a little involuntary "muh!" of pleasure. It's still a pale, lightly fizzy wine, but now my noseholes are happy to come across a real yellowfruity, lightly floral hue to the chalky, bready base that was always there. The midpalated has seemingly filled out and gives more of an impression of softness, while the lemon-chalky finish remains intact. Tasty and more approachable than I'd expected. (9/17/00)

Huet Vouvray Petillant 1997 ($20) (MoJoe): I've been drinking gallons of the 1998 over the past year, so I'd almost forgotten how different this is, much more ripe, robust and rich, more like a fizzy demisec minus the sugar. Why didn't I buy more of this? What the hell was I thinking, it was like seventeen bucks on release for what young vandergrift would call god wine. I think of the empty bottle of 1964 that has been sitting in my hallway for six months and know this will eventually be better. Stupid, stupid me. Two flowering Prongs formed of sculpted sod seeded with wildflowers and set on quartz pedestals in a sunny meadow next to a bakery that specializes in brioche. (9/23/02)

Huet Vouvray Petillant 1998($20) (Longest Night): Lightly fizzy, light breadiness, lemon-limestone. Not showing quite the richness or depth of the '97 (although the '97 at a similar age was very tight), but it's still very nice, racy and yellowfruity, with an underlying mineral streak and a fairly mellow, easy character. (12/31/00)

Huet Vouvray Petillant 2000 ($23) (Misplaced Weekend I): Lots of potential here, striking depth and good weight, but very yeasty-primary now, with a ton of chalk and lemon-quince, all the elements jostling one another for position. More than any of Huet's wines, petillants need age. This doesn't strike me as top-tier Huet, but even merely very solid Huet is a delight. (5/2/04)

Huet Vouvray Petillant 2000 (Pigfest): Shy aromatics--touch of yeastiness, touch of chalk. It seems a smallish wine but an expressive one, turning towards lemon-waxiness in the middle, finishing with a happy prickle. Very nice.(1/06)

Iron Horse Brut Rose Sonoma County 1998 (Misplaced Weekend II): Egad, this is an odd thing. Big splooshy bubbles. Mostly smells of cherry Lick-a-Stix, with cola hints and light traces of mushroominess. Broad and simple, an innocuous and very forgettable fizz. (5/9/04)

Jacquesson Champagne Blanc de Blancs 1995 (MoJoe 2004): Hints of toasted almond, light lemoniness, has a bit more heft in the mouth. Smooth and elegant, light biscuitty-lemon flavors, quiet minerally undertones, with a long toasty-almond hum on the finish. Still fairly light and elegant, but more complex than the 728, more layers of flavor, longer and deeper. An intriguingly mellow and revivifying wine. (7/10/04)

Jacquesson Champagne Cuvée 728 Brut NV (MoJoe 2004): Smells lightly bready, hint of yeast, touch of lemon and yellow apple. Subtly fizzy, fresh and insubstantial, a charming little number that washes away the road dust and other unsavories that filled our mouths as we walked the Manhattan streets. (7/10/04)

David Laclapart Champagne l'Amateur N.V. (Stupid Fizzies): Effusively effervescent. Light, lemony, touch of cream soda, bit of breadiness. Tastes almost ethereal, creamy and crisp, a charmingly simple Tinkerbell of a fizz. (9/14/03)

David Laclapart Champagne l'Artiste N.V. (Stupid Fizzies): Take the above and add a nervy minerality; it retains the boisterous fizziness and lightly lemoncreamy flavors but adds a crystalline purity at the core. Long yeasty-stony finish, a smoothly focused and balanced wine. Pretty nice I guess, although it puts me in mind of a conversation I had ages ago with the late lamented Andrew Scott: "That Pinon '96 Petillant is good stuff, you should pick some up," I said at the time. "Oh yeah, that stuff's good," he responded, "but it's much better after three days in the fridge, when the bubbles are all gone. Then you can actually taste it." (9/14/03)

Larmandier-Bernier Champagne Blanc de Blanc Brut NV (Walt Begs for Mercy): It's quite a frothy mouthful, with effusively foamy bubbles moussing up all over the inside of my mouth. Smells yeasty-bready, with yellow apple-lemon hints. I sip at it, and it's quite refreshing after the walk, rounded and effusively fizzy. It's somewhat blunt, and there's not a great deal of complexity, but it's a decently refreshing drop. Perhaps a few hours' decanter time would help calm the frothiness down. (5/01)

Larmandier-Bernier Champagne Cramant Blanc de Blanc (Stupid Fizzies): Smells like biscuits. Big and tart, a little bitter in the middle, a little bitter on the finish. I can't parse the label on this one. Is it non-vintage? I don't know, I can't tell, it might as well be German. Is there an A.P. number? (9/14/03)

Guy Larmandier Champagne Brut Premier Cru Vertus NV (New Value Region): Smells biscuitty, toast with a hint of lemon-ginger. Quite toasty-tart tasting as well, full flavored, lightly chalky and crisp. Quite decent, although the dryness makes it seem severe after the sweet Moscato. (12/22/01)

Laurent-Perrier Champagne Brut Rosé NV ($40) (Miller Time): Pale pale salmon color, smells lightly of earth and faint cherries & strawberries, hints of yeastiness and coral chips. Tastes crisp and lively, touch of sweetness meshes well with the earthy-berry streak. A happy wine, just complex enough. (1/12/02)

Laurent-Perrier Champagne Grand Siecle 'La Cuvée' Brut NV (Sleeping Cats): Smells lightly flinty-toasty, with lemon and tart green apple hints, traces of coral chips in the mix as well. A sip, and it's a light, lean style of Champagne that flashes lemony-tart at first, then eases off and turns towards minerality. A pretty little gamine of a bubbly, flirty and cheerful. (9/17/02)

Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante NV (McNetta 2002): I recall this was the first bubbly I remember enjoying--at the age of five I would slug it back with my mother at Sunday brunch until the room spun. Ah, those were the days. Smells plasticky, apple candy with a hint of licorice. Moëlleux-sweet, more apple-candy muscat flavors, lightly fizzy but just too sweet for me now, with a syrupy mouthfeel. Fairly poor. (6/02)

Domaine Meriwether 'Discovery Cuvée' Brut NV ($15) (Oregon): Lots of minerals here, very pure and clean, crisp and focused, a fizzy glacial stream. Light hints of yellow appleskin in the middle, traces of ginger flicker on the finish. This is Lisa's favorite: she digs the clarity and brightness. Very good stuff, and another good value at $15.

Jean Milan Champagne Ogier Carte Blanche Blanc de Blancs NV (Fisting Punts): Light, elegant. Subtle nose, flickers of smoke and yeast, green bosc pear and yellow apple. Perky in the piehole, lots of fizziness, quiet lemon-accented flavors, thin in the middle, gingery dancing finish. Elegant, light. (10/13/02)

Charles de la Milenière Champagne Brut Rosé NV. Strange-smelling, yeasty and cherry-raisinish. Tastes mutedly cherry-strawberried, gently fizzy and startlingly abrasive, rough-textured and quite unpleasant. "Smells like raisin bread," observes Manuel, "but raisin bread is nicer, because it's bread." General agreement. (2/06)

Sergio Mionetto Extra Dry Sparkling Wine NV (Lou Turns the Worm): Fizzy, friendly, touch of bakery over yellow apple, very lightly fizzy, touch of apple juice. A prosecco-style wine with extra-special non-prosecco heirloom grapes added or something like that. Gentle, supple and uncomplicated, nice fresh stuff. (10/05)

Moët & Chandon Cuvée Dom Perignon 1990 ($100): smooooth city--velvety & restrained nose of light stone & pear sandwich with honey glaze on freshly-baked bread. Medium-weight and silky in the mouth, with Tiny Bubbles that bring Don Ho nostalgically to mind. (9/99)

Moët & Chandon Nectar Imperiale NV Demi-Sec ($15) (Prodigal Hawaiians): Wow, those bubbles are huge suckers, kicking and squirming and banging in my mouth as they effervesce on my tongue. Beautiful big-bubble mousse, a toasty, honeysuckley-sweet nectar fit to end an evening of excess. Oleg, driven mad with lust, seizes the bottle and empties it in one moment of demi-insanity. (1/15/00)

Moletto Prosecco Marca Trevigiana 2000 ($9) (Boatloads III): Light lemon-chalky nose, if I didn't know better I'd think this was a Vouvray petillant. Lean and chalky-lemony, cheerful and simple; decent, uncomplicated little fizz. [Buy again? Yes.] (2/05)

Monmousseau Vouvray Brut NV (Misplaced Weekend I): Pleasant but matchsticky and rather simple after the Huet. Still, it's decent enough, light flashes of paraffin and chalk, tastes lean and bright. (5/2/04)

Pannier Champagne Brut Rosé N.V. (Stupid Fizzies): It's pink, salmon-pink. Smells flinty, light cherry notes and river rocks. Tastes bitter, disjointed and jarring. Unpleasant. (9/14/03)

Pierre Peters Champagne Blanc de Blancs 1995 (Impostors): I sniff at it: yellow apples... plaster of paris... bread. A sip, and there's tangy yellow fruit, smooth and bubbly, a nice combination of overt pear-apple fruit and bread-mineral spine. Nice bubbly, well balanced and friendly, substantial yet bright and fresh, serendipitous yet obsequious. (11/4/00)

Pierre Peters Champagne Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut NV (Unclear Identities): to distract myself. It's very bready-smelling, smells like WheatBerry bread, if anyone besides me remembers that, with lemony accents. Smooth and frothily-fizzy, a broad and blunted wine, one that appeals to those of us who like our Champagnes big and flavorful and don't favor the namby-pamby 'elegant' style. In other words, it's plebeian bubbly, blue collar stuff for Joe Lunchpail. (8/8/04)

Francois Pinon Vouvray Brut NV ($13) (Boatloads V): Lightly fizzy, hints of almond paste, yeast, quinine and chamomile tea. Hasn't the grace or focus of the vintage version, but great for an informal glass of fizz. The chenin is surpisingly gutsy, with some real heft and presence that kind of makes itself known above the bubbles. In other words, there's a heaviness here, 'effervescent' doesn't come to mind, but it's a weightiness that I find pleasing, although more refined types might call it graceless. Of course, I don't like most fizzy wine, so take that for what it's worth. [Buy again? Sure thing.] (10/05)

Francois Pinon Vouvray Brut NV (Passages): Andrew brightens, "Hey, this is a blend of '95 and '02!" he says. News to me, but it's good stuff, whatever the origin--bright, chalky-stony and yeasty, with a light marzipan streak. Pleasant heft, not a whole lot of depth, very friendly and frothy. Let the soothing numbness begin. Pinon, take me away! (4/06)

Francois Pinon Vouvray Petillant Sec 1996 ($17) (Guess Who's Coming to Guzzle): Hints of wax and pollen over a lean chalky frame, toasty almond traces underneath, hints of fresh-baked bread, more pollen on the finish. Happily cohesive and cheerful, there wine has passed its young-chenin awkward phase; the pear-apple fruit is muted and smooth, but I can't help thinking a few more decades might be called for. Still, it's got enough going on now to be quite enjoyable in its youth. (7/4/04)

Puzelat Petillant Naturel 2001 ($20) (Stupid Fizzies): Potato-field-after-a-rain funk at first, then a flinty minerality under some lightly earthy-limey fruit. Taut and nervy, only lightly fizzy (phew), finishes with a slow rumble of lemon-lime rockiness. Curiously more imposing at the end than the beginning, I like this one despite the initial swampiness because it actually has some distinctive character. Plus, it's not as fizzy as the others. (9/14/03)

Puzelat Petillant Naturel 2002 ($21) (Misplaced Weekend II): Not menu pineau this year, something else, even more obscure... mesnil? Anyway, it smells very yeasty-bready, chalk and lemon underneath. Bright, narrowly focused and minerally, lean and pretty fizz. (5/9/04)

Riverview Blanc de Blanc Finger Lakes 1989 (Finger Lakin' Good): Lighter in color, a pale wine; bready, yeasty hints mingle with a limestony mineral streak on the nose, this is less fruity, more stony/bready than the Glenora, light-bodied, with a hint of sweetness (100% chardonnay). This is one of John's wines, and if the snatches of conversation that filtered down from his end of the table hit my ears correctly it seems he thinks it's a bit past its prime, but I find its less overt fruit and slight austerity very pleasant; it has more character than the Glenora. (12/8/99)

Alain Robert Le Mesnil Champagne Reserve 1979 (Adlers): Smells a little bit like toasted marshmallows, hints of honey and baked lemon thrown in for good measure. Tastes flattened-out, lightly fizzy stuff laced with maple syrup and toasted bread notes. Odd. Seems to be slipping away, more of a curiosity than anything else. (9/2/02)

Jacques Selosse Champagne Blanc de Blanc NV ($40)(Foodies): Elegant, toasty-yellow aromas, a bakery festooned with yellow flowers, smooth and velvety in the nostrils. The wine is lively and poised, with a lovely thrust of cool toasty lemon-pear fruit and zippy acidity. Not as exuberantly flavorful as the Billiot, but whip-strong, with a long humming finish. Very nice. (10/14/01)

Jacques Selosse Champagne Blanc de Blancs NV (Misplaced Weekend II): Flint and old mushrooms on the nose, hints of toast. Tastes rather tired, the vague apple-pear fruit is flat and inert, the fizz is keeping the heart beating, but the patient isn't doing so well. Not bad for a ten year old non-vintage bottle that's been in the back of a closet somewhere, I guess. Somebody (Eden?) states that this appears to be "British Isles wine," apparently a whimsical term of endearment for over-the-hill bottles. Hey, if the shoe fits.... (5/9/04)

Jacques Selosse Champagne Blanc de Blancs 'Substance' NV (Sleeping Cats): Boisterously ripe chardonnay smellies here, pear-apple fruit laced with toast and bakery aromas, roast cashews and vanilla. Big and weighty in the piehole, almost like a sparkling California chardonnay. Lustily fizzy, solid chewy-creamy yellow middle and long toasty finish. A husky, overpoweringly flavorful mouthful of bubbly that nevertheless somehow manages to seem balanced. Substantial indeed, an almost tiringly impressive wine that comes at you on its own terms and wins you over to its worldview by sheer force. (9/17/02)

La Spinetta Bricco Quaglia Moscato d'Asti 2000 (New Value Region): Lightly sweet, juicy-fruity, fizzy and fun. "A great breakfast wine" someone cries, which sums it up nicely. It does lose a modicum of charm when it starts to warm up though, turning a bit fat and limpid, so be sure to drink it well chilled. (12/22/01)

Sylvin Farms/Tomasello Winery Sparkling Rkatziteli Atlantic County NV ($15)(Cape Mayhem): Light leesy-bready and flinty hints under a bright base of bubblegummy yellowfruit. The wine is lightly fizzy and simple, juicy-fruity and lemon-banana candied at first, sliding into a surprisingly bitter finish. Odd, and more odd. (5/26/01)

Domaine des Terres Dorées/J.P. Brun FRV 100 de Jean-Paul Brun Vin Mousseaux Aromatique de Qualité NV (Backlash!): Beaujolais sees your Cerdon de Bugey and raises you two jiggers of gamay. Frothy and pink, lightly sweet, cherry-strawberry confection, in the mold of Cerdon de Bugey but with more of a cherry-juice flavor than the ubiquitous Renardat-F‰che. Jay takes a sip and actually laughs aloud. Fun summer fizz, delightful. (9/05)

Vilmart Champagne Brut Cuvée Rubis NV (No Hook): Pale salmon color. Smells of cherry and carrot, has an easygoing fizziness and a touch of a candied-cherry quality. Not bad, but a little heavy, lacks nerve. Of course, the bottles been open for four hours and it may be a little flat at this point, so make of that what you will. (6/7/03)

Zardetto Prosecco Brut NV ($9) (Boatloads III): Light lemon-chalky nose, if I didn't know better I'd think this was the wine above. Lean and chalky-lemony, cheerful and simple; decent, uncomplicated little fizz. [Buy again? Yes.] (2/05)

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