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Trials and Tribulations
A Righteous Set of Bubbles

By Charles Olken

Here is how this works. My wife, my daughter and I all have birthdays within a week of each other in early September. That makes us no strangers to a week of partying of various kinds culminating in a giant family dinner. And, as you would imagine, a broad selection of wine appears at these events courtesy of yours truly.

It is a further Olken tradition that virtually any get-together of significance have its start with a bottle or three of the bubbly. There is simply no category of wine that gets tapped more often than sparkling wine when the Olkens gather—and I am happy to say that this year’s highjinks were no exceptions.

If anything was different, it was the unique emphasis on the pink versions of the genre. Liking rosé bubbles is not a new thing for us, but this year’s collection was simply the best ever here in California. The number of brilliantly successful pink bubbles coming out of California has never looked better. Every winery seems to have one, and not only were the usual suspects represented this year like J. Schram, DVX and Domaine Carneros, but a couple of new entrants caught our eye and they are worthy of your attention.

Schramsberg, of course, is never far from the top of the table in any rating of California wines, yet it was their new bottling entitled “Querencia” that so caught our fancy. Fresh, bright, crisp and rich, it is not meant to be a late disgorged, complex wine like the winery’s J. Schram bottling. Instead, it is a charmer with all the buoyant fruit and vigor of the most sippable bubblies. It is sold only at the winery, although, with a thousand cases made, it is not going to be impossible to find. Go direct to the source for this one.

Two wineries, who one might not expect, have this year added vintage-dated reserve versions of pink bubblies and both are exceptional gets at prices that would make their French counterparts blush. Gloria Ferrer and Mumm Napa Reserve Rosés carry 2008 dates and are rich, deep and satisfying. They are balanced with bracing acidities and are immensely satisfying.

As we head into the Fall and its rounds of tail-gate parties, college Reunions, family gatherings and Holiday preparations, you might want to bring a little extra bubbly to the table. Nothing says “party” like a good bottle of the fizz—and this year, make it Rosé.


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