Stock your cellar with sparking wine made right here in the U.S.A.
Let’s be honest. Those Champagne folks have been bottling practical magic since an old monk named Dom Pérignon yelled for his pals to “Come quickly! I am tasting stars.” The French have been making sparking wines for hundreds of years, whereas the fine wine industry really didn’t get going here until the late 1970s.
The good news is that we’re catching up and then some. Blessed with a diversity of amazing microclimates and some bold winemakers who are determined to make bubbles worthy of international attention, American sparkling wine is a hot commodity and a growing trend.
Here are six wines made in the traditional champenoise method. Each is exceptionally delicious and won’t blow your holiday budget.
J.K. Carriere, Blanc de Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon—2011)
Made with 100% pinot noir from the Temperance Hill vineyard, this inaugural effort from winemaker Jim Prosser proves that Oregon is ready for sparkling stardom. $75 at jkcarriere.com
Iron Horse, “Wedding Cuvée” (Green Valley, California—2010)
This very special cuvée is a sumptuous blend of 74% pinot noir and 26% chardonnay from the Green Valley in Sonoma, with three years of bottle ageing. $42 at ironhorsevineyards.com
Thibaut-Janisson, Blanc de Chardonnay (Monticello, Virginia—multi-vintage)
What a discovery! Virginia’s wine industry is substantial, but the weather can be unforgiving. Thibaut-Janisson uses only cool-climate chardonnay from the land of Thomas Jefferson to create a delicate bubbly that is racy and refreshing. It’s an absolute steal at this price. $25 at tjwinery.com
Domaine Carneros by Taittinger, “Le Rêve” (Carneros, California—2007)
In the cool region of Carneros at the base of Sonoma and Napa Valleys, Domaine Carneros showcases how French technique wedded to California’s climate equals magic. The amazing 2007 “Rêve” wine roughly translates to “a dream realized”—and it shows. World-class bubbles. $99 at domainecarneros.com
Inman Family, Brut Rosé (Russian River Valley, California—2012)
If you’re looking to buy delicious bubbles handmade by passionate people, Inman Family’s rosé is for you. Crafted with family-grown pinot noir from the coveted Olivet Grange vineyard in the Russian River Valley, Kathleen Inman’s finesse shows. $56 at inmanfamilywines.com
Gruet, Blanc de Blancs (Truth or Consequences, New Mexico—2010)
Another example of French exploration, the Gruet family was vacationing when the chalky soils and temperate climate of New Mexico caught their attention. The brand has subsequently grown and is known for its Champagne-caliber bubbles at a fraction of the price. $25 at gruetwinery.com