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BRUT DARGENT BLANC DE BLANCS

Even more than during the rest of the year, at the holiday season we crave bubbles. You can spend a small fortune on some Champagnes, of course, but one very fine sparkler at a thrifty price is Brut Dargent Blanc de Blancs.

Available for around $13 at wine-savvy markets, this nonvintage wine is a Cremant du Jura, made with chardonnay grapes by the Champagne method but in Jura, in eastern France.

The result is a pale, straw-colored wine with streams of tiny, persistent bubbles. Its aroma is a delicate whiff of lemon and toast with a mineral undertone. On the tongue the wonderful evanescence accompanies creamy white peach and almond, countered with crisp flint - an elegantly balanced flavor with a clean, dry finish.

Brut Dargent is good enough to pair with holiday luxuries like caviar, oysters and escargot. But it would also be a perfect partner for a hearty sandwich of leftover turkey with a slick of cranberry sauce - or for one more slice of pumpkin pie.

By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.

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