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Today's Wine Tasting Note

© Copyright 1997 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.


We continued our New Year's celebration into the first day of 1998 with a fine young Chablis and one of the best low-end bargain sparkling wines I've found:

Chateau de Maligny 1996 Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume ($18.99)
Clear pale straw color. Delicious scent of fresh cooking apples leads into a flavor of fruit and steel: Tart, crisp apples over a vibrant acidic structure. Clean, fresh and balanced, apple-like fruit persists in a long finish. Very fine wine. U.S. importer: Parliament Import Co., Atlantic City, N.J. (Jan. 1, 1998)

FOOD MATCH: I crafted a simple stir-fry of chicken and broccoli with a light garlic and black-bean sauce to go with this wine.

Domaine Ste. Michelle non-vintage Cuvee Brut Columbia Valley (Washington) Sparkling Wine ($9.99)
Clear, light straw color with a good, lasting stream of bubbles. Fresh yeast and apple aromas lead into a highly carbonated and very tart apple flavor. Finishes rather short but clean and dry, a marked advantage in comparison with the sweet, cloying and "off" flavors of many of its competitors in the under-$10 niche.

New packaging for this popular item -- a short, rounded bottle reminiscent of a medieval flagon, and a flashy label that evokes the pin-striping on a '50s hot rod -- led to concern that the contents might have changed, too. But not so far; this one remains an exceptional value and my No. 1 recommendation for those looking for a modest but palatable sparkling wine.

All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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