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Fine Pink Brut

By James Knight

Back in the inequity-averse economy of grade school, everybody got a Valentine; among adults, free-market forces apply. Some of us, complaining that Valentine's Day has few observable benefits outside of filling restaurants with two-tops, bumping cocoa futures and subsidizing the toxic greeting card and floral industries, are glad to pass on it. But for most, the cost for playing the grump is simply too high. Apropos of the season, a panel of confirmed bachelors sampled five of the North Bay's better sparkling ros wines. All were revealed to be fundamentally sound, refreshing and remarkably similar bubbly that would discredit no Romeo upon the popping. As to any dissimilarity of feeling that may follow from these similarities of expression? That, incautious lovers, all depends on how much you imbibe.

Schramsberg 2007 North Coast Brut Rose ($41) A pale salmon-peach blush, forming fine, brave little bubbles, with fresh aromas of guava, peaches and cream, watermelon and fresh-baked scone—maybe smoked salmon in the background—a hint of cotton candy to the frothy, voluminous finish. Bright acidity keeps the richness of this sparkler in focus, and its effervescence kept going a day after opening. Everything to like about a sparkling rose. ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Gloria Ferrer 2006 Carneros Brut Rose ($42) Salmon-pink, with creamy and mild after-aromas of pear cider, Alsatian Pinot Gris, and a hint of tropical fruits; strawberry, guava flavors on a somewhat sweeter finish. ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Domaine Carneros Brut Rose Cuve de la Pompadour ($36) Quite the pink pastel, with a lively pattern of bubbles streaming up the flute. Cool, autolyzed yeast warmed by aromas flowery and floury; rose petal and pastry. Rhubarb, pear and strawberry pie tease the palate with wet weight, before exiting posthaste. Named for an 18th-century French courtesan and Champagne advocate, this is a sparkling with an endgame in mind. ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

J Vineyards Russian River Valley Brut Rose ($30) Again with the salmon-pink-apricot hue. An initially vigorous mousse and cool, fruit-cocktail aromas distinguish this bubbly; austere, tinny overtones either add or detract, depending on one's preference. Cherry-shandy and pear cider lead to a balanced, astringent finish that begs for a bite of crab cake or ceviche. ♦ ♦ ♦

Domaine Chandon Etoile Rose ($50) Lovely peachy-pink, with aromas of strawberries and dairy-fresh cream offset by just a lingering whiff of the dairy pond. Kirsch-tones and the most acidic finish of the bunch might make this palate-cleanser an interesting pairing with richer foods; or stick to your cherry cordials or chocolate bonbons or what have you. ♦ ♦ ♦

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