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Gimonnet Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Cuis 1er Cru Champagne Brut ($27.99)
Tiny in production and perhaps difficult to find in the U.S., where it's a relatively new import, this all-Chardonnay "Blanc de Blancs" is worth seeking out for quality and value. Clear pale-gold, with a lasting stream of tiny bubbles, it breathes fresh apple fruit and delicious "toasty" and "biscuity" aromas. Creamy and rich, tart fresh-fruit flavors fill the palate with a clean and well-balanced flavor; an exceptional Champagne at any price. U.S. importer: Michael Skurnik Wines, Sysosset, N.Y.; a Terry Theise Estate Selection. (Dec. 28, 1999)

FOOD MATCH: An inspired match with a light evening meal of toasted ham and Gruyere with arugula served open-faced on sliced baguettes.

Don't miss our New Year's Guide to Bubbly

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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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