Drink One of the 7 highest Rated California Sparkling Wines

Drink One of the 7 highest Rated California Sparkling Wines

Explore the best sparkling wines from top California vintners

It’s time to de-stress and tune into romance…with a sunset
and California sparkling wine. It doesn’t take much effort to remember to buy
flowers, chocolate and a bottle of sparkling wine. How about taking the
initiative and surprising your significant other with a little intimacy? That’s
right! Turn off the t.v., and make time for the good life. Feel free to set the
mood yourself if your significant other doesn’t do it first. There’s something
about taking the time to slow down, maybe even watch the sunset, and spend time
with someone special that really makes life wonderful. But, what wine to buy
and how much should you spend to get a good one? Here are the 7 highest rated
California sparkling vintners and their bubbly…


According to Robert Whitley of Wine Review*, these are
California’s best sparklers:

Domaine Carneros,
located in the Carneros district of the Napa Valley, is owned by the Taittinger
Champagne house and produces perhaps the most elegant of California bubblies,
Le Reve Blanc de Blancs ($95). It is usually made from 100 percent chardonnay,
but sometimes includes a splash of pinot blanc in the blend. It is aged six
years on the lees prior to disgorgement, and will easily age another six to 10
years after it is released. The 2007 Brut ($26) and 2008 Brut Rose ($36) are
the best bets for value.

Gloria Ferrer,
located on the Sonoma side of the Carneros district, was founded by Jose and
Gloria Ferrer, from Spain’s Catalonia region, where they established the cava
powerhouse, Frexienet. They’ve always made very good sparkling wine in
California, but probably weren’t considered top tier until their very first
vintage of Carneros Cuvee narrowly edged the 1996 Dom Perignon for Best of Show
sparkling wine at the Monterey Wine Competition four to five years ago. While
the current vintage of Carneros Cuvee (2000, $50) is superb, the Gloria Ferrer
that has my attention is the 2004 Royal Cuvee at $32. This wine consistently
triumphs at major international wine competitions, and never disappoints. If
only I had bought more when it was retailing for about $20! Other major award
winners for Gloria Ferrer are the 2006 Blanc de Blancs ($28) and the
non-vintage extra-dry Va de Vi ($22).

Iron Horse,
located in the Green Valley, the coolest section of Sonoma County’s Russian
River Valley, produces two of the most scintillating bubblies made in
California. Both — the multi-vintage Joy and the 2003 LD — can go head-up
against just about anything Champagne could throw at them. Joy ($179) is only
sold in magnum. It is a rich, complex, beautifully structure multi-vintage bubbly
that is aged on the lees for 10 to 15 years (depending upon the cuvee) before
release. The newly released LD (Late Disgorged) retails for $85 and is Iron
Horse’s prestige cuvee. If you are seeking value, try the Russian Cuvee or the
Wedding Cuvee, both priced at $38. These are delightful sparklers that are aged
far less (typically three years) than the prestige cuvees prior to

J Vineyards &
, located in the heart of Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley,
probably offers the greatest value in California sparkling wine today. Both the
2002 J Vintage Brut ($40) and non-vintage J Brut Rose ($28) are refined and
elegant, but neither comes with the hefty price tag of comparable bubblies.
They are perhaps a bit more fruit-driven than some of their close competitors
and rivals, but in a good way. These are simply delicious wines.

Mumm Napa Valley
is situated along the Silverado Trail in the Napa Valley, but sources most of
its finest grapes from the Carneros district. Found by the G.H. Mumm Champagne
house of Reims, France, Mumm has long been a benchmark for quality at all ends
of the price spectrum within the luxury sparkling category. The 2003 DVX ($60)
was a double-gold medal winner at the San Francisco International Wine
Competition and has been among the elite prestige cuvees from California since
its inception in the early 1990s. Yet the relatively inexpensive Brut Prestige
($22) and the non-vintage Brut Reserve ($36) are superb wines that offer both
quality as well as value.

Roederer Estate,
located in Mendocino’s cool Anderson Valley, has making some of California’s
finest bubbly for more than two decades. Founded by the Roederer Champagne
house, Roederer Estate mirrors the parent company’s commitment to sparkling
wine of intrinsic depth, character and complexity. The Roederer Estate Brut
($23) is a non-vintage bubbly that I have inserted many times into tastings of
non-vintage Champagnes at twice the price, and it always holds its own. The
prestige cuvee, the 2002 L’Ermitage ($50) is simply a magnificent example of
the greatness California bubblies can achieve.

located at the northern end of the Napa Valley, in Calistoga, was the first in
California to attempt to produce sparkling wines that could be competitive with
Champagne. It was largely the success of Hugh and Jamie Davies that attracted
the French Champagne houses to California to begin with. It wasn’t easy for the
Davies, for both chardonnay and pinot noir, the primary grapes used in the
production of wines made in the “Champagne” method, were not readily
available when they opened shop in 1965. They persevered and ultimately
established numerous benchmarks in the evolution of California bubbly. Their
prestige cuvee, J Schram, is arguably one of the top-three sparkling wines made
in California. The 2004 vintage currently retails for $100, as does their
scintillating 2003 Reserve Brut. The 2008 Blanc de Blancs ($38) and the 2008
Brut Rose ($41) are exceptional wines as well, though not as complex or
structured as the prestige wines.

It’s time for sparkling wine tonight!

One Response to Drink One of the 7 highest Rated California Sparkling Wines

  1. We are overjoyed to have been included in your “Drink One of the 7 highest Rated California Sparkling Wines” article, we are thrilled you find our wines delicious, and the J Brut Rose is a J fan favorite, especially for setting the mood during a sparkling sunset. And you are right, it does not take much effort to take your time and share a wonderful moment with someone special, a little chocolate and sparkling wine can make for a bubbly impression. Cheers!

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