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Wine Review: Cheers to an unusual New Year’s celebration

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This likely will be the quietest, most calm New Year’s Eve celebration to be experienced in a long time.

The lack of large gatherings or parties does not mean that you cannot celebrate the departure of 2020, which has become a most difficult of years in many ways. While there will be no mass gatherings, the event can and should be celebrated with the immediate adult family.

Since the traditional celebration almost always includes sparkling wines or Champagne, I would like to make some suggestions.

Champagne Billecart Salmon Brut Reserve ($55)
This brut is made from the same classical Champagne grapes that have graced the variety for centuries: chardonnay, pinot meunier and pinot noir. The chardonnay adds elegance and crispness to the finished wine, while the pinot noir contributes body, strength and fruit flavors. The pinot meunier acts as a softening buffer between the two other dominant elements while adding a fresh, young quality to the wine.

Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose American ($80)
Here is a French Champagne that has been made to conform to the American taste. The very dry Champagnes are referred to as the British style, so I guess if the wine is just slightly sweet, that is the American style. Whatever the style, this wine presents a positive aroma of cherries, strawberries, rye bread and rose petals, as well as a smoky note. On the palate, the wine is complex and enjoyable.

Chandon Sweet Star ($27)
This wine is not super sweet but just on the sweet side. The sweetness is controlled so that it does not overpower the true flavors and aromas but rather complements them. The flavors and aromas of summer fruits abound. Despite its French name, this wine is a true child of California and boldly proclaims that in its flavor.

Santa Margarita Prosecco ($23)
Santa Margarita Prosecco is an exceptionally fine sparkling wine that can easily rival the best from the Champagne district of France. The alpine-grown grapes endow the wine with a creamy melon, citrus and pineapple flavor and aroma. The wine trails off with a yeast and toasted bread aftertaste that lingers in the mouth for a long time. Try this wine with winter holiday dinners; it can stand up to the ham or turkey usually served, as well as the assorted side dishes, sweet or savory.

Left Coast Cellars Queen Bee Bubbly ($36)
If you saw this on the shelf, you probably would pass it by as some cheap, unsophisticated joke. The bottle resembles a typical sparkling wine that is very unceremoniously sealed with a crown cap, similar to those used for soda bottles. Unattractive, yes, but there is more. A quick look will show there is “junk” lying in the punt of the bottle. This wine starts off as a well-made white pinot noir, which is then bottled and given a dosage of encapsulated yeast, the “junk,” to start secondary fermentation (turn the bottle over and see the snow shower). It is then carbonated by the addition of honey from bees living on the estate and sealed. The result is an outstanding wine. It is dry, displaying a host of flavors and aromas. Ginger, honey, pear and clove are the most obvious but there are more. This is what I will be serving at my very exclusive (close family members only) New Year’s celebration.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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