This year, Fall Release Weekend is November 3 - 5, so the November issue of the Review oF Washington will be previewing wines that will be poured that weekend, including ones from Abeja, Aluvé, Neher Family, Valdemar Estates, Rotie Cellars, Dossier and College Cellars. From other parts of the state, there will be reports on Longship Cellars and Convergence Zone Cellars. 

Affordable Sparkling Wines

We enjoy having "bubbly" every now and then. French Champagne is always a treat, but there are times that call for a more affordable sparkling wine. But some are better than others. There's Italian Prosecco and Spanish Cavas. Prosecco is Charmant Process tank injected CO2 and Cava is mass produced block rack short secondary fermentation. For really good bubbles and flavors, you have to go to riddled and disgorged "methode traditionelle" bottle fermented products. Here are our recommendations. Do not call these "Champagne" (except the last one).

The following were purchased at Safeway but are widely available.

N.V. LUXE by Chateau Ste Michelle Brut Rosé, Columbia Valley "Methode Champenoise" ($17.99) - As the name suggests, this is an upscale version of Ste Michelle's sparkling lineup. It shows a brilliant copper-rose color, frothy bubbles and aromas of strawberries, pink cherries and orange peel, with scents of cherry blossoms, day lilies and whiffs orange incense. The flavors are nicely balanced, with well textured fruits that are enlivened by CO2 and recurring orange peel, followed by a mineral Brut finish. 18.5/20 points.

N.V. Mumm Napa, Brut Rosé ($20.99) - This offers a brilliant copper-pink color, streaming bubbles and floral aromas of strawberry, pink cherry, tangerine. cherry blossoms, pink roses and pink incense. The flavors are bright and brisk, accented by grape skins, cherry stones and minerals. The back picks up fraise and cerise liqueurs, recurring tangerine peel and CO2 on the morally Brut finish. 18.5/20 points. d nicely balance

N.V. Mumm Napa Brut Prestige ($20.99) - The white version is composed of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It shows a lemon-gold color, a streaming mousse and aromas of apple, Crenshaw melon, apple blossoms, lemon verbena and vanillin. The flavors are brisk, yet well textured, with notes of grape skins, melon rind and minerals. The vigor continues on the back with Calvados, hazelnut and lemon zest on a zippy CO2 infused finish. 18.5/20 points.

France is an excellent source of Crémant and other sparkling wines.

N.V. Bouvet Brut Rosé Excellence ($18.99) - This Loire Valley sparkling wine is 100% Cabernet Franc. It displays a brilliant copper-rose color, streaming bubbles and aromas of strawberry, nectarine, cantaloupe, tangerine, pink roses, orange blossoms and orange incense. The flavors are pleasingly lively, with pink and orange fruits that are accented by grape skins, nectarine stones and minerals. The back picks up melon rind and orange peel on the CO2 enlivened finish. 18.5/20 points.

N.V. Lucien Albrecht Crémant d'Alsace Brut Rosé ($22.99) - Produced from Pinot Noir grapes, this offers a light copper-pink color streaming bubbles and enticing aromas of strawberry, pink peach, pink cherry and pink roses. The flavors are deft and nicely balanced, with pink and orange fruits that are accompanied by a good dose of CO2 on the finely fruited Brut finish. A real crowd pleaser. 18.5/20 points.

N.V. Pierre Sparr Crémant d'Alsace Brut Réserve ($22.99) - This displays a brilliant lemon-gold color, streaming bubbles and floral aromas of Bosc peas, white peach, lemon custard, pear tree blossoms, jasmine, lemongrass and white incense. The flavors are brisk, yet well textured, with notes of grape and pear skins, peach stones and Vosges minerals. The back picks up poor and pêche liqueurs and lemon peel, enlivened by CO2 on the finish. 18.5/20 points.

If you want to splurge on a real French Champagne but not spend $50 or more, here's an excellent value which can be purchased for $38.69 with the 6 bottle (mix or match) 10% discount.

N.V. Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne, Réserve Exclusive Brut ($42.99) - Composed of 40% Pinot Meunier, 40% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay, this displays a brilliant lemon-gold color, streaming bubbles and aromas of pear-apple, white peach, vanilla and white incense. The flavors are simultaneously racy and creamy with notes of pear and grape skins and finely balanced fruits. The back is accented by hazelnuts, brioche and CO2 on the richly textured finish. 19/20 points