5 years ago

The best California sparkling wines

Think all 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 bubbly needs.

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.