- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2006

J Vineyards, Brut, Russian River Valley, 2001, $32

With the holidays fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking bubbly cham-pagnes, of course, but also top quality American sparklers.

One of the best of California comes from J Vineyards in Sonoma County, whose newly released 2001 brut displays fresh fruit flavors with a toasty, almost nutty undertone. Seamless and sophisticated, it tastes very stylish.

Because so many of California’s grape regions have a hot growing season, many of the state’s sparklers seem cumbersome and clunky.

The Russian River Valley, however, leads directly to the Pacific, thus providing an inlet for cool, sometimes downright cold, ocean air. Grapes for sparkling wine benefit tremendously, as they maintain acidity and don’t overripen. The resulting wines then seem balanced and harmonious.

J’s brut is fashioned in a delicate style, making it a good choice to drink as an aperitif. Yet it’s not too light to pair successfully with food — fresh shellfish, for example, or smoked salmon.

While perfect for holiday festivities, it will taste just as good the rest of the year. Bubbly tends to go on sale in November and December. Savvy shoppers, stock up.

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