American sparkling wine has long been available but the quality is certainly on the rise, and if you’re ringing in the New Year here in the States, why not toast the future with a homegrown wine?
Champagne producers have long made a home in California, but the fact is that the climates could not really be much mored different. Producers like Mumm, Moet and Roederer have a long history of producing quality California sparkling wine, but often it is at price-points that make it a difficult choice over cheaper Cava or Prosecco. American sparkling wine though in the last few years has seen an infusion of value priced options, often coming from larger producers, as well as smaller producers committed to quality production beyond the usual suspects.
As you raise your glasses to toast the end of what has been a pretty interesting year by any standard, you have a bevy of options to choose from.
A preponderance of Napa Valley Chardonnay and a dab (30%) of Pinot Noir from Monterrey County makes for a beautiful drinking pink sparkler that truthfully tastes like it costs twice this much. The wine is done via the same production method as Prosecco, what is known as the Charmat Method, where the secondary fermentation happens in steel tanks. That being said however, there is a weight and body to this wine’s palate that makes one think of the methods used in Champagne production.
The aromas are very forward, with red fruit, hints of almond and floral notes. The palate offers cherry creme, cut strawberry and an impressive texture.
This wine is 100% Chardonnay from a single vineyard that Sterling selected given the concentrated fruit that is grown there. The Charmat method is preserved to emphasize the freshness and may help a bit accentuate the acidity in the warmer California climate when it comes to sparkling wine.
All of the production methodology is the same as in the rosé. The aromatics are citrus and stone fruit, and the palate offers cut apricot, lemon creme and great texture and acidity.
Urge to Splurge:
This is a wine that has been given a lot of care and attention. The traditional, Champagne method of production on this 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay rosé brings out a level of depth and elegance that makes you sit up and take notice. A commitment to sustainability, and a 100% estate approach means the folks at Balletto control all the variables and can really craft a wine worthy of the time that they take with it.
The wine spends three years undergoing traditional, bottle fermentation, which manifests itself in the depth and complexity of the nose, and the palate. Aromas of baked bread, hazelnut and ripe cherries, introduce a palate of layers and complexity. A yeasty mouth-filling texture is accentuated by flavors of fresh strawberry and rhubarb.
There are lots of small producers now crafting sparkling wine in Washington ton, but much of it comes at a pretty price tag. It’s probably no surprise though that the original Washington winery, Chateau Ste Michelle is producing a range of sparkling wines at superb prices, with a serious eye towards consistency and quality. It’s not uncommon to come across these wines in the grocery store on sale for under $10.
At this price you wouldn’t expect this level of commitment from an American sparkling wine. All the Ste Michelle sparkling wines are produced via the Champagne method, and the pink sparkler is produced with a blend of classical Champagne grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Wines from a few different vintages are blended to create a consistent style.
The aromatics are early season raspberry and notes of citrus, the palate is bright and zippy, with red berry fruit, ample acidity and a great mouth-filling effervescence.
Made with the same two grapes as the pink sparkler with Chardonnay as the dominant grape to complete the Champagne grape trinity. This wine again offers a lot of quality for the price. The aromas are of pear, apple and a hint of almond. The palate is brisk and bright with mouthfuls of bubbles. Flavors on offer are cut apple, beeswax and a hint of citrus.
The most famous name in Oregon sparkling wine is the Willamette Valley’s Argyle. While the Willamette is known for it’s impressive Pinot Noir, Argyle has long been the champion of the Valley’s sparkling wines, making a range of grape options at a variety of price points. Their Vintage Brut is year in and year out a consistent bell ringer when it comes to quality bubbly at under the $30 pricepoint. The last few years Argyle has partnered with the Pacific Northwest College of Art to offer scholarships and highlight those winning students in a limited edition labelling. The three bottle gift set of limited edition labels is available at just a bit more than the standard bottle price.
A rich and generous sparkling wine from another warm Willamette vintage. Aromas are of baked bread, hazelnut and hints of red berry. The palate is generous with ample bubbles accenting flavors of fig, pear and a hint of minerality. The traditional champagne production method offers ample texture and mouth fill complimented by the Willamette Valley’s signature acidity.