<strong>Scouting for the tastiest sparklers $36 and up</strong>: Wine writer Peg Melnik had a blind tasting this week of high-end California sparklers. With the holidays upon us, we searched out the most outstanding sparklers to uncork. Our wine-of-the-week winner is the Schramsberg, 2009 North Coast Brut Ros?at $43.
<strong>TOP PICK: Schramsberg</strong>
<strong> Schramsberg, 2009 North Coast Brut Ros?</strong> 12.8 percent alcohol, $43. ****
An irresistible sparkler with a price that makes it a bit more accessible than many high-end sparklers. It's buoyed with crisp acidity and it has a broad reach of flavors. Yeasty, with notes of raspberry, strawberry, a hint of mango and graham cracker. Nice minerality. Bravo. (The winery is rolling its 2010 onto the market, but you should be able to find both.)
<strong>Others impressive sparklers:</strong>
<strong> Le Reve, 2006 Carneros Blanc de Blancs,</strong> 12 percent, $99. **** A complex sparkler that has quite a range of flavors — brioche, pear, honeysuckle and fig. Refreshing mousse. Long finish. Elegant, and definitely worth the splurge.
<strong>Iron Horse Wedding Cuvee, 2009 Green Valley, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County,</strong> 13.5 percent, $40. **** An impressive sparkler with bright acidity and a nice mousse. It's rich and it has a creamy, round texture and good minerality. A smart buy.