Try a few sparklers and chardonnays for a light touch

December 3, 2018

Did you know: One medical term for hangover is veisalgia, derived from a Norwegian word meaning “uneasiness after debauchery.” Veisalgia hints at the scrim of despair and self-loathing, a hangover’s most elusive element, and the one that resists every dispelling mechanism we can throw at it. Hopefully you, my gentle readers, were moderate in food, drink and shopping, thereby avoiding scrim and self-loathing. Perhaps a few are tuned in looking for a little “hair of the dog.” I’ve got the goods this week.

Riondo Prosecco Nero NV is a fine buy around $11. Straw color, persistent bead, with apple, pear, and acacia flower bouquet. Light, bright acidity and fruity on the palate; it finishes cleanly, a good aperitif wine. Argyle Brut 2014 keeps you domestic. This nice Willamette sparkler shows delicate bead with tart apple, cherry and floral bouquet. I was particularly pleased with the pie spice on the palate. Look for cinnamon and ginger in the long, clean finish 91 McD under $20. It won gold at San Fran Chronicle wine competition.

Argyle is very consistent and has scored 89-90 points as far back as 1998 in my records. It is also consistently priced around $19-$21. For some reason, Argyle’s Knudsen Vineyard Brut Dundee Hills demands a premium price around $50; I don’t see the value. The 2014 is 100 percent Pinot noir, old vines (1974), higher elevation and limited release. Don’t get me wrong; it is a lovely wine with plum, fresh orange peel and smoky hints, fine effervescence, bright acidity and clean finish.

I prefer blended Pinot Noir sparklers, and Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut Rosé would be a terrific choice at a more favorable $24, 90 McD. Light pink, berry, cherry, currant aromas, zesty acidity, strawberry, cherry and hint of orange zest on the palate. Big-buck babes and buckaroos can make a splash with Schramsberg J Schram Brut North Coast Rosé 2000, ‘04, and ‘07; avoid 2009. Ready to drink now, the 2000 is coppery pink with cherry, autolyzed* yeast aromas, crisp and dry with raspberry, orange zest, brioche, and vanilla flavors, 94 McD, $177 at Zachys. Finally, Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Brut Anderson Valley 2011 is a revisit. Why? Because I like it. Lovely tiny bead, bursting aromas of almonds, buttered toast, cinnamon and ginger. It opens on the palate to lemon, tart apple and more pie spice notes. Bright, clean, long finish, $67, 94 McD. *(Autolysis is the microbiological event that occurs during sur lie aging. After several months of aging, enzymatic changes occur within the yeast cells allowing the release of amino acids, esters, terpenoids and other natural compounds into the wine.)

OK, Chardonnay requesters, here’s a few for you. Hartford Court Forestville Four Hearts 2015 is ready and findable. RP wrote a 96 in 2015 and it went off the scale, jumping to $48. Time heals, my friends. The wine did a backflip to $41. It is still around now and in its perfect window at $42-$45. Straw- yellow color says, “I can cellar longer if you wish.”

Redolent floral nose: orange, honeysuckle and apple blossom, plus citrus and oak aromas. Smooth, medium-full-bodied with tangerine, crème brulée, vanilla, honey, and marmalade flavors.

Perfect mineral acidity supports all through a long, nutty finish. Long time since I’ve enjoyed Chardonnay like this. Reminded me of a Martinelli Three Sisters 2007, when Helen Turley was making the wine. Hamilton Russell Hemel-en-Aarde S. Africa Chard 2017 made No. 57 on the WS top 100 this year. Regulars may remember I reviewed it at 90 points under $35 and wrote, “try to find the 2014, 93 points, $27.”

I stand my ground, and the ‘14 is still around at $31. Be apprised, this is the same as the Walker Bay label. Original notes read, “Reminds of best Wh. Burgundy, golden colored, with floral, brioche, apple, lime and nutmeg aromas. The palate shows round mouthfeel, bright acidity, nut and citrus flavors riding a palate-cleansing fresh acidity through to a clean almond finish.” Break out your foul-weather gear, and I’ll see ya next week.

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