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De Chanceny Cremant de Loire Brut Rose 

Loire Valley, France

Retail $16

Not all French sparkling wines are Champagne. In Burgundy, Alsace and Loire, such wines are known as cremant. In 1975, the Cremant de Loire appellation was established to legally define alternatives to increasingly expensive wines from Champagne. More than 3,700 acres are planted across the Loire for sparkling wine production, centered around the community of Saumur. About 10 percent of the cremant produced in the Loire is rose. Composed of 100 percent cabernet Franc, Loire's most important red varietal, this wine is made from hand-picked grapes from 20- to 30-year-old vines. A close relative of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet Franc is less tannic, has more acidity and ripens earlier. After the wine goes through second fermentation in the bottle, it spends 12 to 18 months on its lees in the bottle, aging in a 12th-century limestone cellar prior to disgorgement, the process that clears the bottle of the remnants of yeast. In the glass, the wine's persistent effervescence yields scents of orange peel, lemon zest, fresh red berries and a hint of baked brioche. On the palate, taste crisp apple, strawberry, raspberry, pink grapefruit, a touch of earthiness and mineral notes. Drink it as an aperitif or with smoked salmon, roast fowl or pork, fried eggplant sticks, french fries, salads, tuna tartare, grilled fish and pate. Buy it at: Whole Foods Markets. ­— BRENDA MAITLAND

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