Wine review: Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs Sparkling

Established in 1986 as the California home of Spain’s Ferrer family (who own Freixenet), Gloria Ferrer embodies the winning result of a large gamble placed 29 years ago. Sure, the Ferrers likely had some money to burn, but to throw down cash to buy 160 acres of land in Sonoma County’s unproven Carneros Valley takes some courage. However, they did have some experience in the bubbly arena.

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The best, inexpensive summer sippin' wine: Vinho Verde from Portugal

Not sure why but Vinho Verde doesn’t get much respect from the sophisticates out there. The wine snobs, the “connoisseurs” or the collectors don’t rave about the summer utility of this Portuguese white. Perhaps they prefer to limit their consumption of Portuguese choices to the venerated Port wine sector which overshadows Portugal’s VVs. But this light, slightly spritzy and refreshing yet refreshingly affordable wine is just what the 90-100 degree weather and crappy economy demand right now.

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Five refreshing white wines for spring and summer

Warmth is finally peeking out from underneath the underbelly of winter, escaping to where people wear shorts and sandals. When the mercury rises to this level, it’s difficult to slurp red wine, so I recommend these five inexpensive white and sparkling wines that should quench the thirst tugging at your tongue.

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Sparkling wine review: Sorelle Bronca Prosecco Brut (Veneto, Italy)

Used to be bubbles were out of reach for everyday drinking, but then quality Italian Prosecco came along. Like the Sorelle Bronca Prosecco that I tasted at a wine bar in Santa Rosa in Northern California. By the glass for $8. An absolute steal.

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Sparkling wine review: Gran Pasion Brut Cava

Winemaker Paul Clear’s first effort was Palarea 2005 Tinto, a red wine blend and the second, this Spanish Cava, made from a traditional blend of native Spanish grape varieties.

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Sparkling wine review: Cristalino Brut Cava

Besides Segura Viudas Cava, this little $10 number is a favorite in the “cheap” sparkling wine category. Widely available too.

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Sparkling wine review: Lucien Albrecht Cremant d'Alsace Brut

This French Crémant (crim-AUNT) hails from the Alsace region of France, where they aren’t allowed to call their sparkling wines Champagne. This is kind of a good thing. Like Pinot Noir drinkers before Sideways released, people “in the know” can enjoy great Champagne-esque wine at lower prices.

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Champagne taste, beer budget: The best bubbly for the buck

Tiny bubbles titillate. There’s something mesmerizing about watching liquid confetti flood a tall, fluted glass. It’s hard to describe, but “sensual” comes close. Inexpensive sparklers double the effect, with the added rush of bargainship completing the moment. And now, thanks to the growing popularity of bubblies in other countries and the recession, deals on quality juice are more prevalent.

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Sparkling wine review: Domaine Carneros 2006 Brut Cuvee

As the American outpost of the famed French Champagne house Taittinger, vintage after vintage, Domaine Carneros the best way to drink Champagne-ish on a craft beer budget. Great value for the money.

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Duval Leroy Rose Champagne Non Vintage

Yes, there’s definitely something sensual, sexy and seductive about a glass of Champagne. And if it has a tint of salmon pink color to it, it give me chills like I’m about to enjoy well… you get the point. The result in this French bubbly yields red fruit on the tongue… tart red cherry, red apple and strawberries. Not sweet but zingy.

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