Foreau Vouvray Brut ($14.99)
This one from the Loire Valley is a favorite in our household; this is the third time I've tasted it in the past year-and-a-half. Labeled "Methode Traditionnelle" ("traditional method") now that European regulations no longer permit the more explicit "Method Champenoise" on non-Champagne sparklers, it's a clear straw color with relatively scanty bubbles, offering appealing aromas of fresh cooking apples and rising bread dough. Crisp and tart, it shows more prickly carbonation on the palate than the bubbles suggest, with white fruit and an array of earthy flavors (including an odd note of clean but damp laundry) that point to its use of Chenin Blanc in place of the Champagne varieties. A fine wine and an excellent value, with idiosyncratic flavors that will appeal particularly to lovers of Loire whites. US Importer: Vintner Select, Cincinnati, and other regional importers. (Dec 19, 2002)

FOOD MATCH: Very good indeed with a "three-lily" risotto loaded with leeks, red onions and garlic.

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