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Wine of the week: Cristalino Brut NV

Wine of the week: Cristalino Brut NVSometimes, one forgets old friends. Not intentionally, of course, but because of the press of business and the rush of life. There are new wines to try and more posts to write, and one sometimes takes things like the Cristalino for granted.

For which I’m sorry. It has been two years since I reviewed Cristalino, the Spanish sparking wine known as cava, and that post was more a back-handed slap at the lawsuit that made it change its name because a federal judge ruled that consumers might confuse it with the $150 Cristal, which was French and Champagne. (Its new legal name is Jaume Serra Cristalino, which I refuse to use.)

This was one of the first wines I ever reviewed professionally, back in my newspaper days, and it has never – and I mean never – let me down. The first bottle I opened for this review was flat (no doubt sitting on a shelf in a hot warehouse too long), but was still quite drinkable.

Cristalino ($7, purchased) is everything a cheap wine should be and too often isn’t – varietally correct and well made, with distinct flavors and character. Look for terrific bubbles, a little bit of green apple fruit, and even a sort of mineral finish. Yes, it’s simple, but it’s also not too much of one thing or not enough of another, an incredible achievement for a $7 wine.

It will take its rightful place in the 2013 $10 Hall of Fame in January, and I will drink more of it this holiday season and recommend it for Thanksgiving. Because it’s always good to say hello to an old pal.

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