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Searching for New Year’s events? Visit pd2go.net/NYE2017.

A tsunami of sparklers will be uncorked between now and New Year’s Day, and for many the pours will be somewhat random: a combination of what looked good in the store, what fit the budget and whatever found its way into the party via guests. But sparklers can be the crowning touch when they’re chosen with care to suit the menu and the occasion, not to mention the crowd. Naturally there’s New Year’s Eve to consider, but other events often come into play during the season, too, including a large holiday open house, an intimate dinner party, or a brunch. Here are some event-specific suggestions of what to uncork at each gathering that will keep you and your fellow celebrants sipping and toasting with bubbly that’s spot on.

New Year’s Eve

When the clock strikes midnight this year, you’ll be celebrating a moment in time, one you’ll want to remember as we say goodbye to 2017 and hello to a year that we hope will be better.

That’s why you should uncork a bubbly that has the potential to be a memorable way to celebrate the New Year — 365 days of new opportunity, to make and break as many resolutions as you like. What follows is trio of sparklers that are so tasty, they’ll linger in your mind.

The Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs is a standout because of its complexity, while the Domaine Carneros Utra Brut is impressive with its elegance. Meanwhile the L’Ermitage turns heads with its pitch perfect balance. Memories require a little staging, so take a peek at the detailed descriptors and pick the one with the most potential for nostalgia.

Schramsberg, 2013 North Coast, Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Wine, 12.7 percent alcohol, $42: This is an exceptional sparkler that’s complex with a range of flavors. It has yeasty aromas with a hint of caramel, and on the palate, there’s pear, melon and brioche. It has a round texture, with an underpinning of crisp acid to buoy the flavors. The blanc de noirs has a nice mousse, with spiralling, pinpoint bubbles.

Domaine Carneros, 2012 Carneros Ultra Brut Sparkling Wine, 12 percent, $44: An elegant sparkler, the Domaine Carneros is crisp and dry with lovely aromas and flavors of jasmine, green apple and lemon curd. It has bright acid, and tiny, pinpoint bubbles.

Roederer Estate’s L’Ermitage, 2011 Anderson Valley Brut Sparkling Wine, 12 percent, $48: This striking sparkler has impressive balance. It has gorgeous nutty, yeasty aromas and on the palate notes of pear, lemon curd and hazelnut. The brut finishes crisp, and has a nice mousse.

The Open House

This type of gathering typically reels in 15 to 50 people, so you’ll want to be cost-effective without sacrificing quality. Keep in mind that each bottle contains five glasses, so if you shop for five bottlings in the $20 range and spend about $100, you’ll be able to pour 25 glasses of bubbly. The focus here is on sparklers that give you more bang for the buck, and these three brands — Korbel, Roederer Estate and Mumm Napa — have a good track record with these bottlings.

Korbel 2016 California Champagne Brut, made with organic grapes, 12 percent alcohol, $16: The brut has striking yeasty aromas, and on the palate, bright green apple, orange and lime. It has great balance, a supple finish and a nice mousse.

Roederer Estate NV Anderson Valley Brut Sparkling Wine, 12 percent, $24. The complex sparkler is gorgeous with layered aromas and flavors. It’s floral, with notes of red apple, cinnamon and yeast. While it’s rich and supple, it still manages to be vibrant.

Mumm Napa Valley NV Brut Prestige Sparkling Wine, 12.5 percent, $24. This is a pretty sparkler with notes of stone fruit, red apple and honey. It has crisp acidity, a creamy texture and a long finish.

Intimate dinner party

At a small gatherings like a dinner party, you’ll want to take a bottle of exceptional quality but also one that has an interesting backstory. People in Wine Country love to hear about new ventures and unique approaches to winemaking.

Flaunt and Benovia have new sparklers on the market, while Inman has a catchy label to attract millennials. All three are quality brands and make for great cocktail conversation. For example, vintner Dianna Lee, who produces Flaunt, has been a fan of California sparklers for 25 years and has wanted to make one since she co-founded Santa Rosa’s Siduri in 1994.

“Working with my growers over the years, I’ve often wished I could make sparkling wine from some of the vineyards that I’ve sourced my grapes from, and now I’m thankful I can,” Lee said

Flaunt, N.V. Sonoma County Brut Sparkling Wine, 12.5 percent, $85: This brut is layered with notes of green apple, mineral and toast. Flaunt is rich, with a touch of toffee on the finish, but it’s kept in check with bright acid.

Benovia, 2012 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine, 12 percent, $50. This impressive sparkler is complex with layered aromas — petroleum, brioche and apple — even before you take a sip. The rich-yet-balanced flavors follow through to the palate. It has a creamy texture and a nice mousse.

Inman, 2014 Whole Buncha Bubbles, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, Blanc de Noir Sparkling Wine, 12 percent, $68: This fun-loving, spirited label has a delightful range of flavors — raspberry, green apple and mineral. It’s a serious layered sparkler, with gorgeous yeasty aromas.


Pink sparklers are festive and food friendly, which makes them perfect for a New Year’s brunch. Crisp and dry, they ride on bright acidity and have tangy fruit flavors like wild strawberry and watermelon. They offer a purity in flavor that contrasts with rich brunch fare like cheese soufflés and omelet tortes. Here are a few that are particularly striking.

Domaine Carneros, 2014 Carneros Brut Rosé, 12 percent, $39: This is an elegant sparkler, refined and polished. It has great bones — meaning structure — and bright acidity. It has floral aromas and subtle flavors of strawberry, cherry and mineral. What makes it striking is its balance.

Gloria Ferrer NV Carneros Brut Rosé 12.5 percent, $50: This crisp, refreshing sparkler reels you in with yeasty aromas. On the palate it’s fruit-forward with notes of strawberry, pomegranate and cherry, and it has a citrusy finish.

Inman Family, 2014 Russian River Valley Brut Rosé, 12 percent, $68: This is a pretty sparkler with brioche and strawberry aromas, and flavors of watermelon and tart cherry. It has a creamy texture and a refreshing mousse.

Bottles to contribute

If you’re bringing a gift to contribute to a small gathering, this is the time to be a big spender. There will be enough to go around so everyone will be able to enjoy a taste of your sparkler. But if you intend to share a bottle with a big group, there’s no reason to spend the nest egg. Choose a bottle that’s outstanding for the price and there are plenty on the market. Here are a couple of suggestions for each category.

For small gatherings — Gloria Ferrer, 2006 Carneros Cuvee, Carneros Sparkling Wine, 12.5 percent, $80: This sparkler has spent nearly a decade aging in the bottle so it’s not surprising it’s so complex. It has layered flavors of brioche, black cherry, Meyer lemon and ginger. The cuvée is balanced, with bright acid, and it has a nice mousse.

For big gatherings — Chandon, NV California Brut, 12 percent, $24: This is a tasty sparkler with bright fruit — pear and green apple — and it’s lightly spiced. The brut has crisp acidity and a dry finish. It’s a solid pick.

Now that you’re set for the holidays and you know what to uncork when, you can relax and enjoy what lies ahead — that delightful stretch of free-flowing bubbly.

Staff Writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 707-521-5310 or peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com

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