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Sparkler of the week: the Roederer Estate, NV Anderson Valley Brut

This week’s blind tasting

Roederer Estate, NV Anderson Valley Brut, 12.5%, $28. 4.5 stars. The caliber of this sparkler is extremely impressive, with a nice price tag for celebrating the new year. The nutty, toasty aromas follow through on the palate, adding notes of green apple and lemon to the mix. Buoyed by bright acidity, the pinpoint bubbles offer a nice mousse. The Roederer, which finishes crisp, is an elegant take on bubbly on this side of the pond.

Benovia, 2017 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Blanc de Blancs, 12%, $50. 4.5 stars. This bottling stands up to the best bubbly produced in Wine Country. It’s a gorgeous sparkler, with complex flavors of pear, apricot and hazelnut. Pitch-perfect balance. Nice mousse. Well-crafted.

DVX, 1212 Napa Valley Sparkling Wine, 12.5%, $75. 4.5 stars. Aromas of yeast, brioche and toast give way to strawberry, apple and lemon on the palate. Balanced acidity, with a toasty almond finish. Top-rate.

Flaunt, 2017 Russian River Valley Brut, 12.5%, $48. 4.5 stars. A complex bubbly with elegance. It has bright acid coupled with crisp citrus. Aromas of yeast and brioche, with green apple and lime on the palate. Nice mousse. Striking and extremely well-crafted.

Iron Horse Brut LD, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, 13.5%, $110. 4.5 stars. A striking sparkler well worth the price if you have the disposable income. Layered notes of peach, lemon and apple. While this bubbly has great minerality, it also shows the complexity of aging seven years in the bottle during its secondary fermentation. Lingering finish. Gorgeous.

Le Reve by Taittinger, 1213 Carneros, 12%, $120. 4.5 stars. Aromas of yeast, brioche and a touch of toffee. Layered flavors of ginger, lemon and honey on the palate. Rich and complex from seven years of aging. Nice mousse, with a lingering note of crème brûlée. Worth the price for the bubbly connoisseur.

Schramsberg, 2016 Blanc de Noirs, $12.8%, $43. 4.5 stars. A layered sparkler where citrus meets stone fruit. It has notes of peach, apple and mandarin orange. This balanced bubbly is tart yet coupled with rich flavors of almond and marzipan. Floral finish. Just lovely.

Frank Family Vineyards, 2014 Napa Valley Carneros, Blanc de Blancs, 12%, $55. 4 stars. Rich aromas of toast and brioche lead to refreshing citrus notes on the palate. Nice structure, yet the sparkler unfolds with a creamy texture. Great minerality. Lovely.

Gloria Ferrer, 2010 Carneros Cuvee, 12.5%, $80. 4 stars. Rich aromas of yeast and brioche couple with bright flavors of peach and apple, giving this tangy sparkler great balance. Nice and dry, the cuvee finishes tart. Pretty.

J, 2014 Blanc de Blancs, 12.5%, $80. 4 stars. A lovely sparkler with aromas of brioche and yeast and flavors of green apple, pear and peach. Creamy texture. Lively pinpoint mousse. Nice length.

Sea Smoke, 2014 Sea Spray, Sta. Rita Hills, Sparkling Wine, 12%, $90. 4 stars. A lovely sparkler with aromas of brioche and yeast, along with a generous dose of citrus and stone fruit. A lively mix of nectarine, mandarin orange and grapefruit. Refreshing, with bright acid. Nice length.

As we uncork bubbly next week, we’re not just celebrating the annual ritual of welcoming a new year; we’re racing to 2021. We’re eager to step out of 2020, the unprecedented year when chaos became the new normal, when grappling with the pandemic and the wildfires brought worry and hardship.

“It was indeed a very stressful year for everybody,” said Arnaud Weyrich, winemaker of Mendocino County’s Roederer Estate. “Being a firefighter, a nurse or working in agriculture created daunting challenges. As we mourn the people we lost, I think that for our own mental sanity we need to look at the positive things around us and celebrate life. Some joy and positive thinking will go a long way as we pop these corks.”

Weyrich is behind our sparkler of the week — the Roederer Estate, NV Anderson Valley Brut, 12.5%, $28. The caliber of this sparkler is extremely impressive, and it has a nice price tag too, for celebrating the new year. The nutty, toasty aromas follow through on the palate, adding notes of green apple and lemon. Buoyed by bright acidity, the pinpoint bubbles offer a nice mousse.

Other tasty sparklers, at a range of price points, include: Benovia, 2017 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Blanc de Blancs, 12%, $50; DVX, 1212 Napa Valley Sparkling Wine, 12.5%, $75; Flaunt, 2017 Russian River Valley Brut, 12.5%, $48; Iron Horse Brut LD, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, 13.5%, $110; Le Reve by Taittinger, 1213 Carneros, 12%, $120, and Schramsberg, 2016 Blanc de Noirs, 12.8%, $43. Also delicious are Frank Family Vineyards, 2014 Napa Valley Carneros, Blanc de Blancs, 12%, $55; Gloria Ferrer, 2010 Carneros Cuvee, 12.5%, $80; J, 2014 Blanc de Blancs, 12.5%, $80, and Sea Smoke, 2014 Sea Spray, Sta. Rita Hills, Sparkling Wine, 12%, $90.

An uplifting toast or two will no doubt see us through the trials we endured, Weyrich said.

“The vision at the start of harvest was pretty gloomy with a heat wave, the virus, then the fires,” he said. “The epiphany is that we prepared for the worst and it worked for the most part. It was difficult, but we made it through harvest.”

One upside, Weyrich said, is that the challenges of 2020 moved the wine industry into the world of digital technologies at an accelerated pace.

“There was a big learning curve,” he said. “Hopefully some of these digital tools will remain and help alleviate some of the future travel associated with carbon footprints. At Roederer Estate, we had to learn a lot about new ways to keep our people safe on the job, new ways to sell wine and new ways to communicate via digital tools. It was a year of learning, and the small successes kept us going.”

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

This week’s blind tasting

Roederer Estate, NV Anderson Valley Brut, 12.5%, $28. 4.5 stars. The caliber of this sparkler is extremely impressive, with a nice price tag for celebrating the new year. The nutty, toasty aromas follow through on the palate, adding notes of green apple and lemon to the mix. Buoyed by bright acidity, the pinpoint bubbles offer a nice mousse. The Roederer, which finishes crisp, is an elegant take on bubbly on this side of the pond.

Benovia, 2017 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Blanc de Blancs, 12%, $50. 4.5 stars. This bottling stands up to the best bubbly produced in Wine Country. It’s a gorgeous sparkler, with complex flavors of pear, apricot and hazelnut. Pitch-perfect balance. Nice mousse. Well-crafted.

DVX, 1212 Napa Valley Sparkling Wine, 12.5%, $75. 4.5 stars. Aromas of yeast, brioche and toast give way to strawberry, apple and lemon on the palate. Balanced acidity, with a toasty almond finish. Top-rate.

Flaunt, 2017 Russian River Valley Brut, 12.5%, $48. 4.5 stars. A complex bubbly with elegance. It has bright acid coupled with crisp citrus. Aromas of yeast and brioche, with green apple and lime on the palate. Nice mousse. Striking and extremely well-crafted.

Iron Horse Brut LD, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, 13.5%, $110. 4.5 stars. A striking sparkler well worth the price if you have the disposable income. Layered notes of peach, lemon and apple. While this bubbly has great minerality, it also shows the complexity of aging seven years in the bottle during its secondary fermentation. Lingering finish. Gorgeous.

Le Reve by Taittinger, 1213 Carneros, 12%, $120. 4.5 stars. Aromas of yeast, brioche and a touch of toffee. Layered flavors of ginger, lemon and honey on the palate. Rich and complex from seven years of aging. Nice mousse, with a lingering note of crème brûlée. Worth the price for the bubbly connoisseur.

Schramsberg, 2016 Blanc de Noirs, $12.8%, $43. 4.5 stars. A layered sparkler where citrus meets stone fruit. It has notes of peach, apple and mandarin orange. This balanced bubbly is tart yet coupled with rich flavors of almond and marzipan. Floral finish. Just lovely.

Frank Family Vineyards, 2014 Napa Valley Carneros, Blanc de Blancs, 12%, $55. 4 stars. Rich aromas of toast and brioche lead to refreshing citrus notes on the palate. Nice structure, yet the sparkler unfolds with a creamy texture. Great minerality. Lovely.

Gloria Ferrer, 2010 Carneros Cuvee, 12.5%, $80. 4 stars. Rich aromas of yeast and brioche couple with bright flavors of peach and apple, giving this tangy sparkler great balance. Nice and dry, the cuvee finishes tart. Pretty.

J, 2014 Blanc de Blancs, 12.5%, $80. 4 stars. A lovely sparkler with aromas of brioche and yeast and flavors of green apple, pear and peach. Creamy texture. Lively pinpoint mousse. Nice length.

Sea Smoke, 2014 Sea Spray, Sta. Rita Hills, Sparkling Wine, 12%, $90. 4 stars. A lovely sparkler with aromas of brioche and yeast, along with a generous dose of citrus and stone fruit. A lively mix of nectarine, mandarin orange and grapefruit. Refreshing, with bright acid. Nice length.

Peg Melnik

Wine, The Press Democrat

Northern California is cradled in vines; it’s Wine County at its best in America. My job is to help you make the most of this intriguing, agrarian patch of civilization by inviting you to partake in the wine culture – the events, the bottlings and the fun. This is a space to explore wine, what you care about or don’t know about yet.

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