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Bellavista Bellavista non-vintage Franciacorta Cuvee Brut ($24.99)
Franciacorta, a region in Lombardy's lake country, north of Milan, produces sparkling wines of very high quality, made in the traditional Champagne style from the traditional Champagne cuvees. This one is priced close to Champagne levels, too, but it's competitive in quality. A clear, straw-colored wine, it shows a frothy mousse and persistent pinpoint bubbles. Crisp apple and toasty aromas lead into a rich, creamy flavor, fresh and tart. After an hour in a glass its carbonation fades to a crisp, dry white wine with just a hint of a prickle, but still a good wine. U.S. importer: Empson (USA) Inc., Alexandria, Va. (Dec. 24, 1999)

FOOD MATCH: Excellent with a mild, sweet ham, an uncommon but effective match with sparkling wine.

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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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