Archive for the 'Best Sparkling Wine Made in USA' Category


Best Made in the USA Sparkling Wines 2016

Best Made in the USA Sparkling Wines 2016

This year, we made a commitment to find the best sparkling wine made in the USA. The first step was to identify some of the best wine producers that make sparkling wines. To make the contest fair – all of the wines were covered. The sparkling wines all had to be bruts. (It is sometimes hard to compare a rose with a brut – it is like comparing apples and oranges). From the biggest sparkling producers, we went with their top of the line products which are often not available to the public. The exception was Mumm Napa Brut Prestige instead of their DVX line – the reason – Wine Spectator had rated the Brut Prestige higher than their DVX products. The price listed is the winery price.

So, this is the list from cheapest to most expensive:

  1. Gruet Brut (New Mexico) $17
  2. Kenwood Cuvee Brut (Sonoma, CA) $18
  3. Scharffenberger Brut Excellence (Anderson Valley, CA) $20 (WS 90)
  4. Mumm Napa Brut Prestige (Napa, CA) $22 (WS 91)
  5. Breathless Brut (CA) $25
  6. Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut 2010 (Russian River, CA) $42 (WS 93)
  7. Laetitia Brut Coquard (Arroyo Grande, CA) $48
  8. L’Ermitage Brut  (Roederer Estate) 2007 (Anderson Valley, CA) $48 (WS 93)
  9. Lichen Blanc De Noir (Anderson Valley, CA) $55
  10. Gloria Ferrer Carneros Cuvee (’04) (Sonoma, CA) $59 (WS 92)
  11. Etoile Tete De Cuvee (Domaine Chandon)(06) Napa, CA) $80 (WS 93 for ’03)
  12. Le Reve (Domaine Carneros) 2009 (Sonoma, CA) $110 (WS 93)
  13. J. Schram  (Schrambsburg) 2006 (Calistoga, CA) $120 (WS 93)

The WS means the Wine Spectator rating of the wine from 70-100.

champagne 2016

These are the bottles after being wrapped up.

blinded champagne


The result: For the novice drinkers, they preferred the sweeter and cheaper Kenwood Brut. For the more seasoned drinkers, the winner was L’Ermitage made by Roederer Estate. A close second and a surprise was Laetitia Brut Coquard.


Best Sparkling Wine Made in the USA

Best Sparkling Wine Made in the USA

-by Clothingmadeinusablog (original article)

What is so Special About Champagne?

champagne glasses

What drink makes every special occasion even more special? The answer is Champagne. Historically, Champagne goes back to the 1500s and 1600s. It has been the preferred drink in the coronation of the Kings of France and the preferred drink to celebrate victory even before the age of Napoleon, who was quoted to say: “In victory, one deserves Champagne; in defeat, one needs it.”

So what is it about Champagne that makes it special? I mean Champagne starts like every other wine – as the fermented juice of grapes. The secret is a second fermentation which causes carbonation – and, if done correctly, this secondary fermentation produces these tiny bubbles. These tiny bubbles make the drink “lively”. They dance in the glass, they burst onto your nose causing a slight tickle and, then, they help facilitate the passage of alcohol to your head faster. And you probably know the effects of alcohol on the brain – sometimes it can make you depressed – which is why alcohol is categorized as a depressant, and sometimes it can cause a feeling of euphoria – it is the bubbles that causes more times than not a euphoric sensation. Maybe that is why this quote has been attributed to the monk Dom Perignon: “Come quickly, I am tasting the stars.”

  • “If I could drink only one wine, it would be Champagne.” -Gary Vaynerchuk


Why is it called Sparkling Wine?

For many years this bubbly brew was called Champagne, no matter where it was made. But then the French decided that the Champagne name should  apply only to the wine actually made in the region of Champagne, which is in the Northwest part of France consisting of 80,000 acres of vineyards. Any other “bubbly”, even in other areas of France, would be called “Sparkling Wine.” Therefore, any “Champagne” made in the United States is officially “Sparkling Wine.” But feel free to call it “Champagne”, except in front of “serious” wine drinkers.

  • “Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” -Benjamin Franklin

Who Makes Sparkling Wine Made in The USA?

California – Started by the French

Most of the American Sparkling Wine producers are located in California. That is because some of the major French Champagne houses decided to expand to the United States, specifically, California, which had a long history of wine-making, the right climate and the right soil to grow the “Champagne” grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Menieur. Here are the famous Champagne Houses that started vineyards in California: Moet & Chandon (makers of Dom Perignon) started Domaine Chandon in Yountville; Louis Roederer (makers of Cristal) started Roederer Estate in Philo (Anderson Valley); Tattinger started Domaine Carneros in Sonoma; G. H. Mumm started Mumm Napa in Rutherford; and Deutz started Deutz which eventually became Laetitia (and now American owned) in Arroyo Grande.

  • “When there is plenty of wine, sorrow and worry take wing.” -Ovid

California – Started by the Spanish

There are two Spanish companies that have also started their sparkling wineries in California: Freixenet started Gloria Ferrer in Sonoma and Codorniu started Artesa Winery (formerly Codorniu Napa) in Sonoma.

  • “Wine is sunlight, held together by water.” -Galileo

California – Started in America

Of course, there are American Sparkling Wine Houses that are not started by the French Champagne Houses. The largest in California are: Korbel, Schramsberg, Iron Horse Vineyards, J. Wine Company, Scharffenberger, Piper Sonoma. There are multiple small production wineries that make some good sparkling wines but they are very limited and often not available to the public at large: Sea Smoke makes Sea Spray; Handley Cellars; Frank Family Vineyards, Schug Vineyards. Also some bigger wineries make some limited amount of sparkling wine at times: V. Sattui, Kenwood Vineyards.

  • “Nothing more excellent or valuable than wine was ever granted by the gods to man.” -Plato

Cheap California Sparkling Wines

And then there are the very cheap California Sparkling wines: Like Sofia from Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Barefoot Cellars, Andre, Ballatorre, Cooks, Totts, Wycliff and J. Roget. I would recommend that you should avoid all of these cheap sparkling wines that I have just listed. Some people would put Korbel on this list.

Other States Sparkling Wines

There are a few sparkling wine makers in other states: In Washington, there are two, one is Trevari and the other is Chateau Ste Michelle; In Oregon, there is Argyle; The are a few wineries in New York that also make sparkling wines – I have no experience in trying any of their sparklers. There is one more French champagne house (Gruet et Fils) that started a winery in of all places, New Mexico, its name is Gruet Winery.

  • “Beer is made by men, wine by God.” -Martin Luther

What makes a Great Sparkling Wine

There are certain characteristics of Sparkling Wine that make it great. The most important is the smoothness. That means smaller tiny bubbles. Larger bubbles give off a coarse taste and texture in your mouth. The tiny bubbles are made by aging it longer. The premium champagnes/sparkling wines will be aged five to eight years on average. The aging also makes the aromas and flavors more intense, more complex, and more elegant. And, of course, there is the actual taste which is based entirely on your own palate’s preferences. The premium sparkling wines will often just use grapes from a certain year and will use the designation of the year on the label. Whereas the “non-vintage”, often labeled NV, uses grapes from several years, which helps make them more consistent from year to year. Other terms to know: “Blanc de Blanc” translated white of white means 100% Chardonnay; “Blanc de Noir” translated white from black means 100% Pinot Noir; “Brut” – is a term of its sweetness, it means “dry” or less sweet – which was less sweet than its 1700s to early  1800s predessesors. In scientific terms it is 0 – 15 grams of sugar per liter.

  • “God made only water, but man made wine.” -Victor Hugo
Le Reve

Le Reve

The Best Sparkling Wine Made in America

  1. Le Reve 2007 made by Domaine Carneros – it is their top of the line Sparkling Wine, 2007 was excellent, but other years are very good as well.
  2. L’Ermitage 2007 made by Roederer Estate – it is their top of the line Sparkler. Wine Spectator, the wine Bible, rated this a 93.
  3. J. Schram 2006 made by Schramsberg – it is their top of the line Sparkler as well. Wine Spectator – 93.
  4. Mumms Napa Brut Prestige NV – This is a non-vintage Sparkler, making it one of the most affordable. Wine Spectator 91.
  5. Iron Horse 2010 Classic Vintage Brut. A very affordable Sparkler from the Russian River area. Wine Spectator 91.
  6. Mumms Napa DVX 2009 Rose. From the their top of the line from Mumm’s Napa. Wine Spectator 92.
  7. Etoile Brut NV. From Domaine Chandon’s top of the line. Wine Spectator 91.
  8. Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut. One of the most affordable non-vintage  Sparkler. Wine Spectator 90.
  9. Laetitia Brut Cuvee NV. One of the smaller Sparking Wine makers, it made Wine Spectators Top 10 California Sparkling Wines.
  10. Gruet Blanc De Noir Brut NV. Very affordable sparkling wine from New Mexico. Wine Spectator 90 (2011 review).
  • “Fermentation and civilization are inseparable.” -John Ciardi, American Poet.

Best Everyday Drinking Sparkling Wines

As for the best every day drinking Sparkling Wine (meaning it won’t break your bank), my favorites are Mumm Napa Brut Prestige; Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut or Blanc de Blanc NV; Roederer Estate Brut NV; Domain Carneros (any type) and Gruet Brut, Blanc de Blanc, or Bland de Noir.

  • “Making good wine is a skill, fine wine an art.” -Robert Mondavi

Why Aren’t There More Wineries that Produce Sparkling Wine?

 There are 7,762 wineries in the United States as of 2014, but, probably less than 100 that make sparkling wine. Why is that? Because it is 100 times more difficult than making still wine. With still wine – it can be a fairly simple process, but with sparkling wine, there are many more steps involved, a lot more labor involved and lot more expensive equipment that is needed. And then the grapes that are used in sparkling wine taste nothing like their still wine counterparts. The Chardonnay in a sparkling wine tends to be a lot drier (less sweet) and Pinot Noir has a much different characteristic. The best still wines using the grapes of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir do not make good sparkling wines. It is truly an art to make a great sparkling wine.
Recently, more and more wineries are trying different grape varietals to make Sparkling wine like Moscato, Syrah, Zinfadel, etc. Try one of these, it just might strike your fancy.
Here is a toast to all the Sparkling Wine Producers and drinkers of Sparkling Wine: Eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart. -Ecclesiastes 9:7
-“I am certain that the good Lord never intended grapes to be turned into grape jelly.” -Fiorello  La Guardia former New York City Mayor

May 2020


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