Wine Talk

Snooth User: dmcker

Good sparkling wines not from France, Italy or Spain

Original post 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?


Reply by D9sus4, Nov 19, 2009.

dmcker, I've read great things about the Oregon sparkling wines. Considering the great Pinot Noirs they produce, I would think a good sparkling Pinot Noir acheivable. Thanks for the nod on Soter.

As to the mystery of the disappearing Champagne... my standard response for years, at least to my lady friends, has been that the bottles are only half full after all. The other half being occupied by tiny bubbles, so we're really only drinking half as much as we would if it were still wine. I don't think they really believe this, but they find it a reasonable enough excuse to open a second bottle.

Reply by Jimmy Cocktail, Nov 19, 2009.

Oh yeah, one other that I just remembered is a New york label, Dr Frank. That's the Champagne label for Dr Konstanten Frank Winery.

Reply by Richard M James, Nov 24, 2009.

What about English sparkling wines?! Almost academic as i doubt any are available in the US, as most producers there are tiny in comparison to fizz factories elsewhere in the world. But certain wineries and wines represent by far the best bottles being made in England at the moment, and I think it's the future for top English wines. Hence why upmarket supermarket chain Waitrose has planted Chardy and Pinots on farmland they own in the south (called Leckford), on well-exposed slopes, with the intention of only making traditional (bottle-fermented) method wines. Looking forward to trying the first ones when they surface in a few years time. Best fizz producers include Ridgeview (East Sussex) and Camel Valley (Cornwall) among others. Review of a Ridgeview wine on my website here: The website has a bit of history on traditional method sparkling wine production, as it's been claimed an Englishman did it first, and apparently true that Merret invented the first bottle suitable for second fermentation, although I could be mixing up fact and fiction...

Reply by capitz, Nov 24, 2009.

I'd like to go south on the New World and suggest a couple of favorites: Santa Julia Brut (Familia Zuccardi) Mendoza, Argentina; Santa Carolina Brut (Chile) and Venezuela's Pomar Brut Nature. I also like Mumm and Cooks, but I can't say the same regarding Undurraga's and Valdivieso's (they are both from Chile) sparkling wines.

Reply by irwinarieff, Nov 24, 2009.

A bargain favorite of mine: Piper Sonoma Brut, from California, around $15, rated an 87 "top value" by Wine Spectator a year ago. It has tiny bubbles, a creamy flavor and yeasty tang comparable to a good French bubbly. Not surprising considering its link to the Piper Heidsick Champagne house.

Reply by GhostLemur, Nov 24, 2009.

One of my favourites in NZ would have to be No. 1 Family Estate
Cloudy Bay also do a great do a great job.

Reply by dmcker, Jan 1, 2010.

Interesting to see that most of the wines and winemakers I mention at the top of this thread are included in the San Francisco Chronicle's Top 100 wines of 2009:

Reply by dclalonde, Jan 1, 2010.

Mountain Dome is one of the best in washington but I've seen no mention of the great Domaine Ste. Michelle. I believe there brut recently took on Dom and won at less than $8.00 how could you go wrong. Mountain Dome ages it's wines more similar to real champagne so you get a more aged style. Washington just has a little problem of getting ahold of great Pinot for sparkling production. Although 8-12 ton/acre pinot for the DSM Blanc de Noir seems to have passed Harvey Steimans pallet as he has given it great reviews. (DSM and DOM story)

Reply by D9sus4, Jan 4, 2010.

Dclalonde, At the risk of sounding arrogant, if anyone picked a bottle of $8.00 Domaine Ste. Michelle over a Dom Perignon, then they are either a complete wine novice, or it was a spoiled bottle of Dom. While Domaine Ste. Michelle makes some quaffable wines, they are hardly in the same league as a noble French Champagne house.

Here is a link to an interesting article written by someone who recently attended a tasting held by the same people who created the very myth to which you refer:

Interestingly, his opinion of the $8.00 DSM is pretty consistent with my own.

Reply by Constance Chamberlain, Jan 4, 2010.

Sorry to join the conversation so late, especially now with the prime sparkling time of year having come to a close (well until V-Day)

Austria has some wonderful sparklers from several varietals. Most notably is the Szigeti Gruner Veltiner NV Brut. Light and fruity and delicately bubbly. Check out my review here:

Reply by dclalonde, Jan 5, 2010.

D9sus4, no risk needed as to the tone of your other comments. I was merely bringing up a product that was non French, Italian and Spanish. Obviously I was not saying DSM is better than DOM but it did show well in that tasting of "Novices". Pacific Rim a Randall Graham operation has just put out a Sparkling Riesling but yes it is sweet. As someone that does drink sparling or Grower Champagnes once a week I'm not a novice and in the company of Gruet and Roederer it does stand up especially there vintage sparkling called Luxe. I would tell your lady friends to have 2 bottles of DSM instead of one Roederer, have a great time and they would have 4 bucks to tip the cab driver home.

Reply by dmcker, Jan 5, 2010.

Because of a number of factors (history of what I've been able to drink, types of personal choices I tend to make, a gag reflex to too many of Ste. Michelle's wines in the past, particularly their rieslings, chardonnays and sparklers way back when), for personal consumption I'd rather have one bottle of Dom than a half case or even a case of Domaine Ste. Michelle, unless I was helping throw a large party or cooking large batches of certain dishes. If we're talking value for money I'll stick with the bottles I've already recommended from California and Oregon (and thus will make the one bottle of Roederer do, and might be sharing that cab, anyway ;-) ), though I'm always looking to expand my horizons with well made dry sparklers and other wines.

But that's just my taste, which doesn't find a pleasant match with DSM. Any others you can recommend, dclalonde?

Reply by D9sus4, Jan 8, 2010.

Dmcker, well said. Which reminds me of a contrary experience I had several years ago...
I was visiting a then new, now ex-girlfriend. I had brought two bottles of Veuve Clicquot (yellow label) with me. She proceeded to tell me that she didn't like Champagne because it was too sweet for her taste. I opened the Veuve anyway and offered her a glass... two bottles of Veuve later, she thanked me profusely for enlightening her to the differences between good Champagne, and cheap Champagne.

Just my opinion, but you do get what you pay for when it comes to Champagne.

Reply by Vena, Jan 8, 2010.

I live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Normally we have great sales during the year and I came across Mather Lang from Austrialia special priced at US12 (usual price US20). I shall not compare with the traditional champayne houses. It was light, verey easy and the taste doesn't lingger long enough to enjoy it better, but I think this is value for money here in KL.


Reply by dmcker, Jan 12, 2010.

HondaJohn did an excellent report on a visit to Domaine Carneros in this thread:

Reply by Lindy Hemsley, Jan 29, 2010.

I cannot heap enough praise upon the English Nyetimber. It just beat Bollinger and Louis Roederer to be named Champion of Worldwide Sparking Wines at the Bollicine del Mondo competition in Verona.

Reply by Jim79, Jan 30, 2010.

Check out Jansz from Tasmania in Australia. Serious acid, probably not as much yeast autolysis as our French counterparts, but does the job. Tassie is much cooler than most of Australia.

Reply by Lindy Hemsley, Jan 31, 2010.

Also Clover Hill from Tasmania. Even better than Jansz but the price reflects it.

Reply by D9sus4, Jan 31, 2010.

Thank you Lindy for the tip on English bubbly. Never heard of it, had no idea, who would have guessed? Blimey! Now to see if I can find some for purchase in the USA.

Reply by idrinkonthejob, Feb 2, 2010.

Virginia's Kluge Estate is making some terrific sparkling wines - they're NV, but I'm sure we have more variation in quality than say Champagne - I mean, they have 1,000's of growers, Virginia has dozens! I love Gruet too, both the regular and Rose. Opinion - sparkling wine takes as much wine making technique as it does "terroir", in other words, expect to see and taste more fantastic American sparklers!

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