California sparkling wines
good sparkling wines come from across the pond? Think again! Bill Belkin,
category manager for our Wines
& Spirits locations, shares some of the best U.S.-made bubblies.
What’s in a name? Plenty!
No brandy from California is labeled Cognac – even though all
Cognacs are indeed brandy. No fortified Zinfandel for dessert can be
called a port – because that name belongs to Portugal.
And so it goes, sparkling wine is what we call all that
bubbles from America – and certainly not champagne. But that doesn’t mean that
the bubbly from this side of the pond is not world class – it is!
About 20 years ago, the large Champagne houses started
sniffing around Napa and Sonoma for property suitable to build large-scale
sparkling wine – Method Champagne – facilities. They understood that the base
grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and the lesser known Pinot Meunier – were in
abundance, but they needed viticulturists and winemakers who understood that an
early harvest – in spite of the heat – gave the low sugar and high acidity that
Hence was born the “new world” bubblies. Now Domaine
Carneros (Taittinger family from France), Mumm Napa (G.H. Mumm), Domaine
Chandon (Moet & Chandon) and Gloria Ferrer (Spain’s Freixenet) are making
world-class sparkling wines right here in America. Toss in Argyle from
Oregon and a few independents (Schramsberg and Iron Horse to name but two)
without European parents and a lover of bubbles has tons of choices.
Everything from Blanc de Noir (made only from red Pinot Noir
grapes) to Blanc de Blanc (white, Chardonnay grapes only) is available for
prices ranging from $19 on up at any of our Wines
& Spirits locations. You, too, will soon be able to test your palate
against the real stuff from France.