The Champagne Difference
Cote Mas Cremant de Limoux 'St. Hilaire,' Brut, Languedoc, France ($16) -- The abbey at Saint-Hilaire is thought by many to be the birthplace of sparkling wine. It is said Dom Perignon stayed there during a pilgrimage and learned the secret of the bubbles, which he took home with him to Champagne. The traditional grape of Limoux is mauzac, but this one is predominantly chardonnay with small rations of chenin blanc, pinot noir and mauzac. It is soft on the entry, shows notes of citrus and green apple, and has a medium body and a medium finish. It's an excellent value. Rating: 88.
Valdo Brut Prosecco DOC, Italy ($15) -- This is a straightforward prosecco that is clean and refreshing. It shows notes of green apple with mouthwatering acidity and a dry finish. It's an excellent quaffer that will pair nicely with oysters, steamed clams, mussels and even grilled fish. Rating: 88.
Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvee, Champagne, France ($50) -- Bruno Paillard Champagnes are notable for their elegance with power, or perhaps, one might say, depth and power without weight. The non-vintage brut premiere cuvee is the personification of what Bruno does on a consistent basis: craft a Champagne that is well-balanced, complex and remarkably powerful yet subtle. It's pure magic. It's rich and creamy with firm acidity, lush notes of pear and delicious golden apple, and a long, tantalizing finish. Rating: 95.
Andre Jacquart Brut 'Experience' Blanc de Blancs, Champagne, France ($46) -- Jacquart's 'Experience' blanc de blancs exhibits a toasty brioche nose followed on the palate by notes of pear and crunchy green apple. It's rich and creamy yet powerful, with a firmness at its core that is one of the hallmarks of top-notch Champagne. The finish is long and impressive. Rating: 93.
Valdo 'Oro Puro' Prosecco Valdobbiadene DOCG, Italy ($20) -- Valdobbiadene is the sweet spot for prosecco that produces by far the best wines, almost without exception. On the nose, this prosecco is exceptionally fruity with a strong note of pear, which follows on the palate and is joined by the taste of ripe apple. It's well-balanced with depth that is unusual in prosecco, and it has an impressive finish. Rating: 91.
Follow Robert on Twitter at @wineguru. To find out more about Robert Whitley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.