California sparkling wine is a premium category, meaning you get what you pay for. There are, however, “bargains” from the point of view of quality-price ratio. No matter how much you invest in bubbly, the salient point is that sparkling wine is one of the most versatile food wines in the world. Every wine lover should always have one of these bottles in the fridge:
95 Gloria Ferrer 1999 Carneros Cuvée (Carneros); $50. This late-disgorged wine has been released at the age of 11 years. It¹s a beautiful wine, notable especially for the ultrafine feeling of the mousse, or bubbles. So refined and silky. Rich too are the flavors, in limes, strawberries, toasty lees and minerals. A spectacular sparkling wine that has many years of development ahead.
93 Mumm Napa 2006 Blanc de Blancs (Napa Valley); $30. Made from 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Gris, this lovely Blanc de Blancs brims with vanilla cream, lime and pear aromas and flavors, with the yeasty, baked bread dough toastiness that mark the best sparkling wines. It¹s basically dry and quite high in acidity, which gives it a brisk, clean finish. Drink this fine bubbly now and for the next 6¬8 years.
90 Roederer Estate NV Brut Rosé (Anderson Valley); $27. A beautiful rosé bubbly, from the copper-salmon color to the final finish. Made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, it¹s dry and refined, with complex orange, raspberry, vanilla cream, mineral and brioche flavors. Gains extra points for the smoothness of its bubbles.
90 Scharffenberger NV Brut (Mendocino County); $19. Great price for a brut this classically structured. Made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, it¹s dry and crisp, with a fine mousse that gives it a creamy smooth mouthfeel. The pineapple, raspberry and vanilla flavors are delicious.
87 Korbel NV Blanc de Noirs (California); $12. Made from all red grapes, including Pinot Noir, Gamay, Sangiovese and Zinfandel, this is an elegant, delicious sipper that has more elegance than you might expect at this price.It¹s dryish and crisply clean, with subtle strawberry, raspberry and yeasty flavors.