Wine Talk

Snooth User: dmcker

Good sparkling wines not from France, Italy or Spain

Posted by dmcker, Nov 11, 2009.

Since this subject never gets discussed on Snooth, I'm throwing out a challenge regarding New World sparkling wines. What are the sparkling wines we've found from the New World that are as good as, or in many cases better than large batches of the Champagnes, Proseccos, Cavas, etc. from Europe?

I'm most familiar with the offerings from California, so I'll start there. Most of the producers I'll be mentioning are taking aim at Champagne (and in some cases got their start with money and expertise from France), rather than anywhere else. I imagine the Pacific Northwest, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, South America and elsewhere wll have proponents, too, so let's hear about them. But try to bear Old World gold standards in mind for comparison, please, where possible.

I've found that producers like the following can make wines of exquisite character. Titratable acidity, pH and dosage values are the same as those from the best of Champagne, and their versions sell at considerably lower prices than those from France.
--Roederer Estate

Even at the $20 price point, virtually every important label from the following list is going to taste a lot like their Champenoise counterparts, go in the same way with various foods, yet sell for half the price or less. And compared to NV champers that often include lesser varietals and don't reach our tables for several years after bottling, you'll usually find wines from these makers to be more crisp, vital and just plain delicious than their counterparts.
--Domaine Chandon
--Dom Carneros
--Schramsberg’s Mirabelle bottlings

OK, so the floor's open. Any comments on these wines, or any others you want to recommend?

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Reply by dmcker, Nov 11, 2009.

Someone was just elbowing me in the ribs about one of her favorites, Iron Horse from Sonoma (I think she spent too much time in Sebastopol ;-) ). Not my personal favorite, but I'll toss it out there, too.

Reply by cigarman168, Nov 11, 2009.

How about Zucardi from Argentina, I have join it tasting function two week ago and seems good. And their premium red Zeta is amazing also.

Reply by dmcker, Nov 12, 2009.

I've heard of the Zucardi Zeta tempranillo/malbec blend before (phrases like 'an Argentine Icon' keep getting bandied about) but haven't yet tasted it. What can you tell us about the sparkling version from the winery?

Reply by D9sus4, Nov 12, 2009.

For starters, you left out Korbel in Guerneville, CA which has been around since 1882. Their "Natural" label Champagne (not easy to find) is made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes grown in the Russian River Valley and is quite tasty. Much more refined than the their standard Brut and Extra Dry Champagnes found in grocery stores.

However, my favorite domestic bubbly find comes from Gruet Winery in Albuquerque, NM. You read right, New Mexico. Their regular Blanc de Noirs and Brut Champagnes are very pleasant and easily on a par with Ferrer and Chandon. But their reserve wines is where they really ( I had to say it:) sparkle! Here's a link to their website:

Reply by D9sus4, Nov 12, 2009.

Oops! Meant to include a link to their family winery history:

Reply by cigarman168, Nov 12, 2009.

@DM , I taste the Santa Julia Extra Brut NV from them, easy drinking and good price .

And tasting note from Chief Winemaker RODOLFO MONTENEGRO :
"Elegant and delicate pink color with violet notes. Lively and bright
Red fruits such as cherry and strawberries, typical of Pinot Noir.
Soft and creamy with a wide volume in the mouth. Subtle presence of fresh red fruits. Fresh and lively with an excellent balance and a long finish"

Reply by dmcker, Nov 12, 2009.

So how did you find the Santa Julia, cigarman, compared to a Brut NV from a large Champagne house?

Reply by cigarman168, Nov 12, 2009.

DM, actually not fair to compare directly this one with Brut from large Champagne house since different style and of different price range. Nevertheless, I have taste a bottle of Laurent-Perrier Brut NV these days. More elegant, much expressive flavours and fruits taste progressively come out, much lenghtly after taste.. While the price is six times of Santa Julia.
What you paid and what you get!

Reply by amour, Nov 12, 2009.

(Remember, I make no excuses for being an almost exclusively FRENCH PALATE)


Reply by chadrich, Nov 12, 2009.

I'll second the recommendation of New Mexico's Gruet. And I'll throw in Mountain Dome from Washington State. They make a Brut and a Rose in the traditional Méthode Champenoise.

Reply by StevenBabb, Nov 12, 2009.

i wanted to take a second to give praise for one of the domestic labels that dmcker had mentioned above, domaine carneros.

there french counter part, taittinger, does an exceptional job producing great sparkling wine at there los carneros winery in the southern part of the napa valley.

i was a part of there wine club for about a year and a half, and have enjoyed everything sent my way. the only downside is that some of their labels are only available through the club, or only for purchase at the winery. and if you are ever visiting the valley, i always recommend making a stop at domaine carneros. it's a beautifully styled french chatuea, and the tour that they offer is great. and since it is at the southern most part of the valley, what better way to start of your tour than with some great sparkling!

i would have to say that my favorite is there rose, with nice strawberry and peach on the nose, and a round mouth feel and lush strawberry's on the palate, make this sparkling great on it's own, or with some fomage.

they also produce some great pinots, and decent merlot......

and i would put their "le reve" brut up to almost any other french champagne with the same price point.......

Reply by Jimmy Cocktail, Nov 13, 2009.

Funny, I was going to mention Gruet as well but Dsus beat me to it. :-) Very serious value in a sparkling wine. I'm partial to the Brut, but that's just me.

Another really good sparkling comes from Virginia, from Kluge vineyards in Charlotteville, VA. Well worth the effort to hunt these sparklers down if you can. I'm a fan of the Blanc de Noir but they are all pretty dang tasty.

Reply by fibo86, Nov 15, 2009.

We don't get many Mexican or American bubbles let alone Argentina, unfortunately so I've got a few producers that fit into the parameters that dmcker set.
In NZ Deutz who have a beautiful Rose $20-30,
Pelorus (cloudy bay) same price
Australia Croser (Petaluma) $42,
Arras $70,
Yarraburn $20-25,
Chandon (Moet bought some land and make under this label, many different styles too) $25-50(also sparkling pinot/shiraz),
Di Georgio Sparkling Pinot $25-30
There are a few that I have forgotten but this is some of my favorites around here.

Reply by corskier, Nov 15, 2009.

Argyle up here in OR is making wines that are on par with many high end champagne houses, and their ETB wines are incredible for the money.

Reply by dmcker, Nov 16, 2009.

Fibo, Deutz had an operation in California in the '80s, down in San Luis Obispo, that was superb. Better wine by far than Domaine Chandon up in Napa, which was the only other French-capitalized house in California at the time. At least as good as Schramsbeg, and considerably better than Jordan, which hadn't spun of J yet. Something went wrong, though, and they kinda evaporated sometime during the '90s, with a chunk of their assets sold off to others. Subsequently, the other French houses sprouted in Napa. Really a shame about Deutz, though, because they were making wine that was, firstly, just plain great bubbly, and, secondly, produced in a part of the Central Coast that was generally under the radar at the time. Good to hear they are doing well down in Oz.

Reply by Hugo Sauaia, Nov 16, 2009.

Hey, don´t forget about brazilian sparkling wines, our best wines are sparkling as the terroir in the south is very similar to Champagne, especially concerning climate, what makes chardonnay grapes grow splendidly well. lot´s of very good moscatos also. Try Aurora, Chandon, Miolo and others.

Reply by dmcker, Nov 16, 2009.

Hugo, your comment, following Fibo's, about Chandon in Brazil forced me to look it up. Apparently Chandon produces bubbly in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California and Spain, with Bodegas Chandon in Argentina the first in 1960. I knew of Domaine Chandon in Napa first, which started in the early mid '70s. Oz was early mid '80s. Would be interesting to talk to the LVMH winemakers to see where they think their best bubbly is actually from, at whatever price point....

Reply by fibo86, Nov 16, 2009.

That's really interesting dmcker, just out of curiosity do you know which house bought on the White Cliffs of Dover?(or there abouts in England).
Deutz always seem to produce great wine it's my ye olde faithful.
I agree it would be a fantastic question for the powers that be.

Reply by sportsfan161, Nov 16, 2009.

If going for a domestic bubbly, my consistent favorite has been Scharffenberger over the years. I'm grateful for all the unknowns people have mentioned (sigh) so many wines . . . so little time.

Reply by dmcker, Nov 17, 2009.

Had a fair batch of sparkling this past Saturday night--four bottles of two different bubblies (one champers and one New World) between three of us together with some simple, light hors d'oevres. All that wine seemed to evaporate before two hours went by. Why is it that champagne seems to go down faster than most other forms of wine? Lots of energy, too, to propel us through the rest of that crazy night.

One of the two-bottle batches was a very fine NV Grande Reserve Brut champagne from Pierre Morlet to set the tone. Parched throats were lubricated enough by the end of them so that we very easily quaffed the remaining two bottles, of 2003 Beacon Hill Brut Rosé from Soter Vineyards up in Oregon. Red berries, roses, good minerality and that lovely biscuity flavor and feel we all want in a good sparkling wine. No problems at all in the segue from France to the West Coast.

So I'm nominating Soter to the growing list...

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