It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Bubbly

With the holiday entertaining season upon us, here are 7 of California’s best sparkling wines
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Bubbly
California sparkling wine styles run the gamut. (iStock/halbergman)
Dec 14, 2016

Christmas and New Year's Eve were big celebrations when I was growing up in the Midwest. Our house was the roomiest in my extended family so my folks often served as host. 

There was so much food and drink. We always had seafood on Christmas Eve, usually shrimp with lots of Mom's secret cocktail sauce. (This was small town Indiana in the late 1960s and early '70s, so that was a big deal at the time.) And cheese balls, lots and lots of cheese balls. There were more pies than a reasonably healthy group of human beings should be able to consume in a single evening without feeling lightheaded.

Cocktails ruled the evenings, as well as a punch bowl filled with lime sherbet and 7-Up that was so sweet that my teeth throbbed. There was a fifth of Smirnoff at the bar that made it palatable for the adults.

Bubbly, it goes without saying, would have been ideal those evenings. It would take me another 15 or 20 years to introduce that tradition. Family gatherings are more intimate now and the quality of bubbly has improved significantly.

As Wine Spectator's lead taster for California sparkling wine, I review about 100 sparklers a year. Below, I've picked seven of my favorite California bubblies from the past year. Each one is distinctive and worth seeking out for the holidays. WineSpectator.com members can read the full reviews by clicking each link.

Domaine Carneros Blanc de Blancs Carneros Le Rêve 2009 (93 points, $105)
Laser-focused and sleek with lemon, crème brûlée and mineral notes.

Iron Horse Wedding Cuvée Green Valley of Russian River Valley 2012 ($44)
Delicate rose petal and crisp strawberry and apple accents.

Gloria Ferrer Brut Rosé Carneros Late Disgorged 2012 (93, $47)
Lovely strawberry and brioche notes mix with peach and ginger flavors.

Korbel Natural Russian River Valley ($16)
A lively quaff with spice apple and roasted almond accents.

Mumm Napa DVX Napa Valley 2009 (92, $65)
Impeccably focused and elegant with lemon zest and crushed stone notes.

Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley L'Ermitage 2009 (92, $48)
Luxurious, with toasty brioche, mineral and lemon brulee flavors.

Schramsberg Brut Rosé 2013 (92, $41)
Sleek and expressive, with floral strawberry and spicy vanilla accents.

Holidays / Celebrations Christmas and Hanukkah New Year Sparkling Wines Tasting Reports

You Might Also Like

8 Dazzling Sicilian Wines Up to 91 Points

8 Dazzling Sicilian Wines Up to 91 Points

Travel to Sicily with these new reviews of impressive white, rosé and red wines, most …

Aug 4, 2022
8 Stunning Napa Cabernets Up to 92 Points

8 Stunning Napa Cabernets Up to 92 Points

Explore the wonders of Napa Valley’s signature grape with these new reviews of 2019 …

Aug 1, 2022
8 Enticing New Zealand Wines Up to 92 Points

8 Enticing New Zealand Wines Up to 92 Points

New reviews of delicious white and sparkling wines, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay …

Jul 28, 2022
9 West Coast Values at 90+ Points

9 West Coast Values at 90+ Points

Explore California and Washington state with these new reviews of outstanding Sauvignon …

Jul 25, 2022
7 Global White Wine Values Up to 94 Points

7 Global White Wine Values Up to 94 Points

Travel the world with these new reviews of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and more from …

Jul 21, 2022
Alphabetical Guide to California Pinot Noir

Alphabetical Guide to California Pinot Noir

Nearly 575 red wines from California were reviewed by Wine Spectator  editors in blind …

Sep 30, 2022