May 12, 2020
Onward Petillant Naturel

Onward Pétillant Naturel Rosé of Pinot Noir 2018

Rusty orange color like Provence Rosé. Spicy, savory aroma of cherry skins, ruby grapefruit zest, arugula and pomegranate. Tasty, non-fruity flavors of dry herbs de Provence, red apples, spiced cherry, crushed almonds and cherry pit. Delicious non-fruity flavors, textured and multi-dimensional. Not your fruity, easy going bottle of bubbles…this is a sparkling wine for grown-ups. Here’s a primer on Pétillant Naturel if you need it. Onward and Farmstrong Wines is the creation and passion of winemaker Faith Armstrong Foster. I very much like her vineyard-driven winemaking and affinity for the esoteric while not being too much “out there.” Oh yeah, […]
December 19, 2019
Mirabelle Sparkling Brut

Mirabelle Sparkling Wine Brut

Napa Valley’s iconic Schramsberg Winery also makes Mirabelle, a delicious, great value sparkling wine. Like the life of the party, it’s easy to like and mighty friendly. The flavors are creamy and fruity, a little like a pineapple/mango smoothy. Try the Mirabelle Brut with cream cheese wontons, easy to make at home or get the Cream Cheese Rangoon at Panda Express. Go light on the sweet & sour sauce as too much will overwhelm the wine. My Mirabelle Sparkling Wine write-up is included in my Napa Valley Register Column of 12/20/19 “California Sparkling Wine-Available and Affordable”
December 19, 2019
J Sparkling Cuvee 20

J Sparkling Wine “Cuvee 20”

This is the best “palate-perker-upper” of the lot. I call this fruity and tangy, like icy-cold Granny Smith apples, citrus spray and toothsome pineapple. J Winery is a national leader in cool-climate Sonoma County wines, especially sparkling. Look for the eye-catching, mustard-yellow swoosh of a J silk-screened on the bottle. For a matching snack, zest a lemon then squeeze its juice into a pint of light sour cream or plain yogurt. Serve with lightly salted potato chips. My J Winery Sparkling Wine “Cuvee 20” write-up is included in my Napa Valley Register Column of 12/20/19 “California Sparkling Wine-Available and Affordable”
December 19, 2019

Mumm Napa Sparkling Wine “Brut Prestige”

Mumm Napa sparkling seems to be everywhere. If a store sells wine, good bet they sell Mumm Napa. Might make you think it’s mediocre, understandably, but not the case. It’s tangy, toasty, and like a good dog you can count on it being there to make you smile. The tang and toast make the Mumm Napa an excellent match with cold-smoked salmon. Serve it on a slice of cucumber. My Mumm Napa write-up is included in my Napa Valley Register Column of 12/20/19 “California Sparkling Wine-Available and Affordable”
December 19, 2019
Roederer Estate Sparkling Wine

Roederer Estate Sparkling Wine, Brut

Find Boonville, California on a map and you’re looking at Anderson Valley. Less-known and less-traveled than Napa and Sonoma, Anderson Valley’s cool weather is ideal for making sparkling wine. To my taste, Roederer Estate makes the best. It’s fruity and tangy, like a lemon sorbet (without the sweetness). Cold poached shrimp, a mainstay of the appetizer world, is a great match. But not the cocktail sauce. Instead, stir some roasted garlic and lemon juice into a cup of mayonnaise. My Roederer Estate write up is included in my Napa Valley Register Column of 12/20/19 “California Sparkling Wine-Available and Affordable”
November 21, 2019
Carboniste Octopus

CARBONISTE “Octopus” Sparkling Albarino 2018

Albarino’s fresh floral, peach and citrus flavors are showcased in this methode traditionelle sparkling wine. Very tangy, floral/citrus basket aroma, loads of fruity, electric flavor. I love the balance of ripe fruit and energetic acidity. Made to capture every ounce of freshness possible. Carboniste makes a variety of sparkling wines out of different grapes (Albarino, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir bottlings in their current release with more to come). I like the Carboniste wines I’ve tasted a lot, and I really like their forward-thinking attitude of understanding the changing wine market and creating artisan sparkling wines to satisfy these customers. I […]
July 12, 2019
Sinor Lavallee Pet Nat Ancestrale

SINOR LAVALLEE Ancestrale 2018

Extremely crisp, high acid sparkling wine from this very small San Luis Obispo producer focusing on earth-driven wines. Pinot Noir’s rose petal and raspberry aromas tip-toe in. Tangy citrus, yellow cherry and plum flavors shine in the mouth along with smidge of jasmine or honeysuckle. There’s a suggestion of rocky earthiness on the finish if you’re looking for it. Very dry, very crisp…dryness not designated but stylistically I’d call it an Extra Brut. A unique, cool wine.
January 31, 2019
Bluet Wild Blueberry Sparkling Wine

BLUET Wild Blueberry Sparkling Wine

The first time you try the Bluet you will probably be surprised. I, for one, didn’t know what to expect and was still surprised. Very aromatic, but it doesn’t shout out blueberries. I get cranberries, violets, black pepper and dark plum smells as much as blueberry. Ditto on the taste and it’s high acid and very, very dry. (It is fermented dry and 7% alcohol, which translates to tangy wine regardless of the fruit used.) The sparkling softens the acidity just like in “normal” grape sparkling. This is not to drink solo (as in without food) as it’s too dry […]
December 4, 2018
Subject to Change Sparkling

SUBJECT to CHANGE Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc

Here’s an original. Sauvignon Blanc (from near Hopland, southeast Mendocino County) made into a lightly sparkling wine. Method Ancestrale means the wine, not a dosage, makes the bubbles. In this case it is a second fermenation. Subject to Change uses Sauvignon Blanc must that was frozen at harvest, then thawed and added to wine in bottle. Very yellow-grapefruity, also generous on the green heirloom apple and lime. Kaffir lime and Meyer lemon gives the wine a little exotic-ness. Lightly sparkling, not nearly as much as Champagne. Exceptional intensity of citrus fruits, acidity and herbal character typical of Sauvignon Blanc. Probably […]
October 23, 2018
Soter Brut Rose

SOTER Brut Rose “Mineral Springs” 2014

Unquestionably one of the best American sparkling wines made. This is 91% Pinot Noir, 9% Chardonnay from their Estate vineyard in Willamette’s Eola-Amity Hills sub-AVA. Barrel fermented and aged 8 months before 2nd fermentation in bottle. 2 years on its lees before disgorgement in spring 2017. The Soter Brut Rose comes out of the gate like a lightning bolt with fruit-forwardness (blood orange, wild cherry, raspberries) plus fresh pie crust, roast almonds and chamomile tea. You’ll really notice this wine – shy it is not. And with all its flavor, the acidity is running right alongside. Pour this next to […]
February 20, 2018
Birichino Pet Nat 16

BIRICHINO Pét-Nat Malvasia Bianca 2016

A rare duck in California, “Pet Nat” for short is a single fermentation sparkling wine in which the fermenting wine is bottled and sealed until it’s time to drink. To use the lesser-known Malvasia Bianca makes it an even great oddity. Boy is it good. Orange and lemon blossom nose with green apple skins, fresh-squeezed Meyer lemons and kiwi. It’s aromatic but with restraint, which I find common for Malvasia Bianca in general…not overly aromatic. Since the wine was bottled while fermenting, the dead yeast/lees make the wine very cloudy. This results in more texture and mouthfeel. This is a […]