Best Bubblies This Side of Champagne
By Robert Whitley
Nov 30, 2010
It is often said that nothing in the vast world of sparkling wine tastes quite like Champagne. It is a fair observation, frequently noted by the Champenoise themselves. Most experts on the subject attribute the unique taste and structure of Champagne to the chalky soils of the region, with a bit of influence from the cool climate.
Still, efforts to replicate Champagne go on, and not without some success. A handful of producers in California make sparkling wines that compare favorably to the real thing. Located in the North Coast region that encompasses Sonoma and Mendocino counties and the Napa Valley, there exists a group of wineries that consistently craft the world's finest sparkling wines outside of Champagne.
They are to be applauded for their tenacity, for producing sparkling wine is an expensive proposition involving long-term cellaring of older stocks, extensive blending trials, and very real pricing constraints that handicap a winery's ability to sell its wine for what it's truly worth. California bubbly from the top sparkling wine producers of the North Coast is probably the greatest value in American wine today.
Wines cited as "Very New World" are most importantly California in style, meaning they've been kissed by the sun and are fruit-driven, albeit with the underlying acidity and structure necessary for top-notch bubbly.
VERY NEW WORLD & TOP-NOTCH BUBBLY!
Probably the most underrated of the top sparkling wine producers, J has a new energy and emphasis on complexity since the arrival of winemaker George Bursick. The beauty of this wine is its distinctly California fruit profile combined with the structure of a fine Champagne.