The wine world is forever expanding, and we’re in an era where consumers are increasingly willing to sip outside their comfort zones.
But in the realm of sparkling wine, powerhouse regions seem to continually dominate the conversation. Prosecco, Champagne and Cava command the majority of retail shelves and restaurant wine lists, and smaller regions and styles are often relegated to one-off oddities rather than given their fair share of the sparkling spotlight.
However, domestic winemakers are putting a focus on American bubbly with substantive results. From the North Coast of California to Oregon’s Willamette Valley, New York’s Long Island and Finger Lakes regions, and even solera method bottlings from Michigan, U.S. producers are making high caliber sparkling wines that rival the quality and value of stalwart Old World regions.
Whether you’re looking for an alternative to the well-worn trail of big-name bubbly or just wish to explore producers in your own backyard, here are a selection of U.S. sparkling wines to seek out.
Recommended U.S. Sparkling Wine
Schramsberg 2010 Reserve Sparkling (North Coast); $120, 96 points. This is an extraordinary wine, both mouthfilling in texture and intricate in flavor. A light amber color leads to a profusion of subtle spice and apricot aromas backed by enticing ginger, raspberry and citrus nuances on the palate. The flavors grow richer and deeper with each sip, carried by a very fine bead of effervescence and subtle acidity. Editors’ Choice. –Jim Gordon
Iron Horse 2014 Classic Vintage Brut Estate Bottled Sparkling (Green Valley); $45, 94 points. Flavors of apple skin and lemon verbena accent this wine’s tart, high-toned acidity and restrained richness. A winery flagship, it presents as dry and textured, with a tight structure of finesse. It finishes on a hazelnut tone. –Virginie Boone
Laetitia 2016 Brut Rosé Méthode Champenoise (Arroyo Grande Valley); $39, 94 points. A vibrant shade of orange-pink and full of tiny bubbles in the glass, this sparkling rosé is delicious and approachable from start to finish. Aromas of rose petal, strawberry and chalk lead into a palate with a persistent mousse that delivers bright flavors of watermelon, tangerine spray and lemon. Editors’ Choice. –Matt Kettmann
Roco 2016 RMS Brut (Willamette Valley); $65, 94 points. The blend for this tête de cuvée is 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay and it was given 30 months en tirage prior to bottling. Pushing the envelope for Oregon bubbly ever higher, Winemaker Rollin Soles hits a perfect chord here. Mixed yellow fruits, highlighted with coconut and toast, anchor a thrillingly electric wine with dynamic tension and focus. Fine bubbles and vivid acidity delight the palate. Drink now–2025. –Paul Gregutt
Domaine Chandon NV Étoile Rosé Sparkling (Carneros); $55, 93 points. A prestige cuvée made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, this impressive wine has a beautiful salmon hue. Floral and salty, it presents as dry, with a lingering flavors of lemon peel, oyster shell and unripe strawberry. –V.B.
Soter 2014 Mineral Springs Brut Rosé (Yamhill-Carlton); $65, 93 points. This blend of estate-grown Pinot Noir and 9% Chardonnay delivers a stunning wine. Strawberry shortcake, almond croissant, brioche and a splash of blood orange stand out among a rainbow of delicious flavors. It’s dry but not too tart, with endless details. Disgorged in the spring of 2018, this vintage-dated bubbly should drink well for another decade Editors’ Choice. –P.G.
Sparkling Pointe 2014 Blanc de Blancs Méthode Champenoise (North Fork of Long Island); $44, 91 points. This bright, zesty Chardonnay-based sparkler boasts a pleasing mix of ripe yellow apple, crushed stone and marzipan on the nose. Tiny yet persistent bubbles push along flavors of salt and lemon zest, with toast and apple broadening out the midpalate. The finish lingers on a cleansing saline note. –Alexander Peartree
Boundary Breaks 2017 No. 356 Bubbly Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes); $20, 90 points. This lightly effervescent Riesling boasts bright tones of lime peel, white plum skin, crushed stone and white flowers. There’s plumpness to the palate, with a taut line of acidity leading to the dry, crisp finish. While perfectly enjoyable on its own as an aperitif, this would shine alongside Thai curry. –A.P.
Gloria Ferrer NV Sonoma Brut Méthode Champenoise (Carneros); $22, 90 points. A rich, exuberant nose of apple and sea spray leads to a steely palate built up by nervy, focused acidity. Accents of oyster shell and earth permeate the midpalate in this Pinot Noir-dominant sparkler. –V.B.
Mawby NV Talismon Traditional Method Brut (Leelanau Peninsula); $39, 90 points. This is a gold-colored blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay and 15% Vignoles that employs 34% solera reserve to yield aromas of warm dough, salted peanut and crusty bread. This robust sparkling has tickling, fine bubbles, well-placed acidity and a firm structure. The palate is rich and ripe in flavors of pear and apple, backed by fresh ciabatta and a squeeze of lemon. The finish brings a toastier flavor to the mix that lingers long. –Fiona Adams
Lieb 2016 Estate Sparkling Rosé (North Fork of Long Island); $30, 90 points. This blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay spent 16 months on its lees. A wealth of aromas define the nose: toasted brioche, almond, lemon cream and white raspberry mousse. Small, gentle bubbles frame the creamy, savory palate, with a delicate red berry flavor that lingers behind a cleansing saline note. –A.P.
Underwood 2018 The Bubbles (Oregon); $15, 90 points. From the Union Wine Company, this value bubbly is 40% Pinot Gris, 32% Pinot Noir and 28% Chardonnay. Aromas of bubblegum, cherry and lemon drop candy carry the nose, with fruit-driven flavors on the palate that are crisp and balanced. For an inexpensive, mass-produced bottle of fizz, it raises the bar for the entire region. Best Buy. –P.G.
Published: February 12, 2020