By the time that I am writing this, it is the middle of a very hot summer, and as the sun comes out, corks are popping. Sparkling wine and champagne are being opened to celebrate not only the season, but graduation and summer holidays. However, it is a misconception that both sparkling wine and champagne are both the same, when in reality there are two critical differences that separate them. Sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it comes from the region of Champagne, France, also it can only be made using Chardonnay, into Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. We are examining the best Californian Sparkling Wines, hence the importance of clarifying the difference.
Other than a select range of Champagnes available, the interesting fact about Domaine Carneros is its history, as it is the first and only French Champagne house to settle to the cooler climate of Anderson Valley, in Northern California. It was a risky move that resulted in Domaine’s complex yet delicious character. For example:
The best way I can describe Brut Nature is: unusual and unique. This summer vintage has been refined and crafted differently than the usual champagne. By blending all the grapes directly on the press, this removes sludge and encourages fermentation, as well as ensuring that all of the fermentation occurs in wooden tanks. They too let the wine age over a long period of time without racking. A fun fact is Brut Nature 2006 proportion of 2/3 Pinot Noir and 1/3 Chardonnay.
With over 355 acres of estate vineyards at their fingertips, and expertise in the art of blending, Gloria Ferrer offers a blend between Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, offering an infusion of zesty lemon with superb structure. Some of their wine, such as the Royal Cuvee is aged in their underground caves for over eight years with a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, just like most of their range However, this Champagne’s nose starts with honey, apple and peach, which characters continue with the mouth, but also add pear and black cherry to the mix. Full of acidity and ginger, it still ends with a crisp finish.
“Extra Brut” has been said to be the ultimate expression of their skills and dedication to wine making. This can be seen by the minimal usage of sugar, and the finest Carneros estate fruit. With 6 years of aging combined with its elegant process, results in deep flavour and an overall vintage that was more than they could have asked for.
In Chandon California, it is often reminded how they combine French winemaking techniques with American entrepreneurship as well as the sun-ripened fruit of the Californian state. The variations and vibrancy of the grapes is only heralded by Chandon’s reputation of being a champion of bubbles for a long period of time, sticking to its traditional winemaking techniques and standards, but also its unique and innovating wines such as Sweet Star and Sparkling Red. Everyday Chandon is paried with everyday occasions and many different types of cuisines, which encourages people to enjoy a glass. Happy days!
Sweet Star draws upon the Chandon French heritage and the innovative spirit of California. Like all Chandon wines, Sweet Star is quite a sophisticated and unique sparkling wine that turns any occasion into a festivity. The nose pops with aromas of peach, nectarine, grapefruit and tropical fruits that are complemented by floral notes. However, the journey doesn’t stop there. It continues with its excellent palette which is rich and sweet, although distinctive yet refreshing due to its acidity that enriches the mouth.
J has been around since 1986 and has developed its reputation as one of the top sparkling wine producers in California, and is best known for its celebrated and decorated estate vineyards, contemporary winery and world-class hospitality. J’s winemaker Nicole Hitchcock demonstrates her expertise and the diversity of California’s winegrowing regions, showcases its high quality and exceptional sparkling wines. Each wine is made for an occasion and always pleasant to the taste.
Straight away, J Cuvee 20 Brut NV opens with exciting aromas of toasted almond followed by notes of Braebum apple, dried cranberry ad ginger snap. A delicate dance of bubbles leads to a soft palate with flavours citric such as lemon. On top of the interesting flavours, it has a fine finish which whisks away the wine’s creaminess.
One of the best skill to possess in winemaking is experience, and Schramsberg has well over 50 years of sparkling wines. They are not only committed to crafting exceptional and superb wines, being located in the Napa Valley, the Davies family and Schramsberg team have focused on creating wines that reflect their history and passion with every cork that is popped. Produced from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes grown in the cool-climate of the North Coast vineyards, these wines are blended beautifully to create Schramsberg’s 12-14 distinctive sparkling wines each year. This year should be the time for you to try some of the finest ad most complex handcrafted sparkling wines in California, and some of the more richer and luscious wines available now.
A definite one-of-a-kind, this late-disgorged offering is blended from Schramsberg’s selected range of Chardonnay vineyards. Blanc de Blancs is made from Chardonnay grape, and in 1985 Blanc de Blanc was the first wine ever produced by Schramsberg. With a rich history, it no only became more popular but each incarnation has been improved from the last. The variations of aromas from white peach, apricots and roasted pear is complemented by cinnamon and holiday spice. The captivating note of honeyed toast and lemons just enhances the quality, that even President Nixon served in 1972.