I'm not sure whether I drink more sparkling wine in the summer or winter, and then there's spring and fall to consider. It's a tough call. Either way, I have more excuses this time of year, which is always a plus.
Champagne is an addiction of mine, but I also love California bubbly. They're different beasts, and I don't mind comparing them, but what's the point? I've reviewed California sparklers for Wine Spectator for more than a decade, and consumed them for a lot longer than that.
The top sparkling wines from the Golden State are rich with bright California fruit, but layer it with lively acidity. Consumers will also find great value. Look for my complete American sparkling wine report next summer, but for now, here are the California bubblies that impressed me most in 2014.
Top California Sparklers
Domaine Carneros Le Reve Blanc de Blancs 2007 ($99)
Deliciously austere, with pinpoint focus and brioche and apple notes
Domaine Chandon Brut Sonoma-Napa Counties Étoile NV ($40)
A bold bubbly with classic aromas of apple and ginger and rich, structured flavors.
Gloria Ferrer Brut Blanc de Blancs Carneros Late Disgorged
2010 (91 points, $40)
A sleek and elegant sparkler, with lively notes of baked pear and mineral.
Iron Horse Brut Green Valley of Russian River Valley Classic
Vintage 2009 ($40)
A festive wine that's also perfectly focused and complex.
J Brut Russian River Valley Vintage 2008 ($50)
Crisp and sleek, with lively lemon, almond and mineral notes.
Mumm Napa DVX Napa Valley 2007 (92, $60)
Rich yet beautifully focused, with complex flavors of baked pear and brioche.
Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley L'Ermitage 2006 (93,
Graceful and sophisticated, with delicate brioche and apple notes.
Schramsberg J. Schram North Coast 2006 (93, $110)
Luscious and richly structured, with bold notes of Meyer lemon, baked pear and almond.
California Sparkling Wine Values
Gloria Ferrer Brut Sonoma County Sonoma NV (90, $22)
A festive sparkler with flavors of raspberry and baked apple.
Korbel Brut California Made with organically grown grapes NV
Crisp and lively, with easygoing tropical fruit flavors.
Laetitia Brut Arroyo Grande Valley Cuvée NV (89, $25)
Sleek and easy to sip, with apple, citrus and spice flavors.
Mumm Napa Brut Napa Valley Prestige NV (91, $22)
Packs in a lot of complexity for the price apple, fresh ginger and spice notes.
Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley NV (90, $24)
Floral, raspberry and apple pie aromas lead to crisp lemon and anise flavors.
What were your favorite sparkling wines of 2014?