- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 7, 2004

This bright, refreshing sparkler is the wine find of the holiday season. Crisp, well-balanced and marked by clean fruit flavors, it offers remarkable quality at a ridiculously low price.

A blend of equal parts chardonnay and pinot noir, this dry bubbly is made by the traditional champagne method, with a second fermentation in the bottle. The grapes come primarily from the Marlborough, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay appellations, areas in which a long but cool growing season allows the fruit to ripen while maintaining a high level of natural acidity — just what good sparkling wines require.

Most New World sparklers come from warmer regions. That’s why they often taste sappy or, if the winemaker has had to add acid, medicinal. This wine suffers from neither of those problems. Instead, it’s deliciously clean and straightforward, with impressive length on the palate. There’s no champagne toastiness, just beautifully balanced fruit.

New Zealanders drink lots of sparkling wine (more per capita than just about anyone) and do not think of it only as a special-occasion treat. So demand there compels vintners to offer premium bubbly at an affordable price. With the arrival of Lindauer nonvintage brut in the United States, we Americans can benefit, as well.

Bubbly this good and this inexpensive is virtually unprecedented. Buy this wine by the case in December, then drink it happily all through 2005.

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