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Recommended sparkling wines

France offers dozens if not hundreds of sparkling wines as alternatives to champagne.
France offers dozens if not hundreds of sparkling wines as alternatives to champagne. (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

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Monday, December 27, 2010; 7:43 PM

Jacky Blot La Taille aux Loups Triple Zero

***

Montlouis-sur-Loire, France, $26

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This wine, from old-vine chenin blanc, is tight and focused, with impressive minerality. It is a cremant to impress champagne lovers, and it really perks up even more with food - another reminder that these are, above all, wines and not just vehicles for bubbles. This is new to the market and not yet widely available.

Country Vintner: Available in the District at Cork Market; on the list at Cork. Available in Maryland at I.M. Wine in Fulton and Longmeadow Wine & Liquors in Hagerstown. On the list in Virginia at Brix in Great Falls.

Francis Mure Brut

** 1/2

Alsace, France, $18

(Great Value)

This cremant, a blend of pinot blanc, pinot gris and Riesling, is quite delicious, with tart peach and apricot flavors, medium depth and a satisfying, dry finish.

Ansonia: Available in the District at Ansonia Wines and Wagshal's Market; on the list at Eola.

Chateau de l'Aulee Brut

** 1/2

Loire, France, $20

This is 100 percent chenin blanc, produced using sustainable farming practices. It is rich and rather forward in style, somewhat oxidative, with flavors of Mutsu and Granny Smith apples. Don't think of this as champagne; it is less refined, more gutsy and earthy, and very fun. This cremant's richness calls out for food, and it should be popular at Chinese restaurants.

Bacchus: On the list in the District at Central Michel Richard. Available in Maryland at Chesapeake Wine Co., Wine Market and Wine Source in Baltimore; Wine Cellars of Annapolis; Fairground Discount Beverages in Timonium; Town & Country Wine Liquor Etc. and Wishing Well Liquors in Easton.

Domaine de l'Ecu Cuvee Ludwig Hahn Brut

** 1/2

Loire, France, $23

This certified biodynamic wine is an unusual blend of Folle Blanche, chardonnay, Melon de Bourgogne and cabernet sauvignon; it is charmingly earthy and expressive in a way that seems designed to challenge our preconceptions of what a sparkling wine should be.

Kysela: Available in the District at MacArthur Beverages. On the list in Maryland at Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Barrel Thief Wine Shop (Patterson) in Richmond, Let's Talk Wine in Chesapeake, Timeless Wines in Winchester.

Simonnet-Febvre Brut Rose

** 1/2

Burgundy, France, $20

A scintillating rose from a Chablis specialist, beautifully focused and refreshing. It approaches champagne in quality.

M. Touton Selection: Available in the District at Bell Wine & Spirits, Calvert Woodley, Circle Wine & Liquor, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Magruder's, Paul's of Chevy Chase, Potomac Wine & Spirits, Rodman's. Available in Maryland at the Bottle Shop in Potomac; Cork & Fork in Bethesda; Franklin Liquors in Ijamsville; Franklin's Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville; the Tasting Room Wine Bar & Shop in Chevy Chase; Viniferous and Old Farm Liquors in Frederick. On the list at Shab Row Bistro in Frederick.

Albert Bichot Brut Reserve

**

Burgundy, France, $24

Rich and supple, with apple and apricot flavors, this delightful wine is relaxed, copacetic and happy with any number of foods, thank you very much.

Constantine: Available in the District at Broad Branch Market, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Cork 'N Bottle, De Vinos.

Key

***Exceptional **Excellent *Very Good

Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.


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