Great Wines and Great Values for Holiday Bubbly

California offers something for every taste and budget this season
Dec 11, 2013

Bubbly deserves better than four measly weeks a year, I've always said. Americans gorge themselves on sparkling wine in December, but sip it a lot less during the other 11 months. How did it come to that? It's all about New Year's Eve—I get that—but bubbly is not just about celebration, it's the best wine for casual summer drinking, too.

That's one reason Wine Spectator's annual American sparkling wine report is being moved to mid-year. It's a drink for every season.

Now that I've been reviewing California sparkling wine for Wine Spectator for the past decade, I can say the wines have never been better, whether it is the luxury "tête de cuvées" or the value wines the Golden State has long been known for.

Look for reviews of some of my favorite California bubblies in the Dec. 31 issue. Meanwhile, here is a selection of the top wines. subscribers can read more detailed reviews by clicking on the links.

Top California Sparklers

Mumm Napa DVX Napa Valley 2005 (94 points, $65)
Rich and deep with finesse to spare.

Domaine Carneros Brut Carneros Ultra 2008 (93, $39)
Delicate and complex with razor-sharp acidity.

Domaine Chandon Étoile Tête de Cuvée Napa-Sonoma Counties 2003 (93, $100)
Sleek and structured, with an appealing maturity.

Gloria Ferrer Anniversary Cuvée Carneros 2008 (93, $40)
Rich and opulent but well-focused.

Iron Horse Wedding Cuvée Green Valley of Russian River Valley 2009 (93, $40)
Fresh and festive, this bubbly is built for a party.

Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley L'Ermitage 2004 (93, $47)
Impeccably focused and elegant, with layers of complexity that open slowly.

Schramsberg Rosé North Coast J. Schram 2005 (93, $140)
Bold aromas and layered flavors finish with a vibrantly crisp note.

Those are special-occasion wines, for the most part, but who doesn't deserve the best every once in a while? That said, California continues to offer great value. For inexpensive sparkling wines to share with friends and family, it's hard to beat some of the latest releases by Korbel, many of which sell for $14 and less.

California Sparkling Wine Values

J Cuvée 20 Russian River Valley NV (90, $28)

Korbel Brut California NV (87, $14)

Piper Sonoma Brut Sonoma County Select Cuvée NV (87, $17)

Scharffenberger Brut Mendocino County Excellence NV (90, $20)

You Might Also Like

Ravenswood in Limbo

Ravenswood in Limbo

Founding winemaker Joel Peterson talks about the Zinfandel cult favorite's uncertain future

Jul 22, 2020
Playing It Safe with Wine, Food and Friends on the Fourth of July

Playing It Safe with Wine, Food and Friends on the Fourth of July

The 2020 summer holidays are all about good food, great wine—including these 6 summer value …

Jun 29, 2020
Rediscovering the Comforts of the Dinner Table

Rediscovering the Comforts of the Dinner Table

With cooking at home on the rise during the pandemic, gathering family around the meal is …

May 1, 2020
End of an Era at Domaine Carneros

End of an Era at Domaine Carneros

Trailblazing California winemaker Eileen Crane is retiring after 42 years in the business

Apr 16, 2020
Bring on the Bubbles!

Bring on the Bubbles!

Buying advice for 11 domestic sparkling wine bargains and splurges from California, Oregon, …

Dec 17, 2019
A Reluctant Farewell to Jimtown Store

A Reluctant Farewell to Jimtown Store

The iconic country store followed the arc of Sonoma County’s rise

Dec 9, 2019