June 1, 2021

Pop Stars: Chart-topping bubblies from across the globe add sparkle to any occasion

Wine Spectator logoby Alison Napjus

“High quality sparklers are produced in wine regions around the world, and wine lovers everywhere enjoy them in a range of settings: by the glass at restaurants, in the kitchen with family, on the lawn at picnics—and yes, for toasts at weddings and holidays.

To highlight this diversity, the following roundup of recommended bubblies is organized by occasion. ‘Gifts and Celebrations’ is the crème de la crème, ‘Weeknights & Brunch” including go-to options for dinner at home or a Sunday morning with friends, and ‘Parties & Events” offers wallet-friendly bottles to buy by the case. Whatever your needs, a delicious sparkling wine awaits your discovery and enjoyment.

California & More From the U.S.
Sparkling wine is now produced in virtually every state in America, with good quality examples appearing from New York to New Mexico and many places in between. California, however, accounts for the vast majority of U.S. production, with Washington and Oregon a distant second and third.

Many Golden State producers have their roots in the Old World, founded by French Champagne or Spanish Cava houses that saw the potential for sparkling wine from a different climate and terroir. Leaning on their European foundation, most versions blend Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier—the same grapes used in Champage—and rely on the traditional method for production (look for méthode Champenoise or méthode traditionelle on the label), which is more labor-intensive and time-consuming. Many wallet-friendly offerings, however, rely on the Charmat method, in which the second fermentation is performed in a pressurized tank instead of in individual bottles.

Whichever production technique is used, California bubblies typically offer more fruit-forward character than their European counterparts, and the best versions marry that with sleek, well-knit structure and fine texture. Oregon’s cooler climate often results in sparklers that share a greater affinity with the French model, while bottlings from Washington frequently partner good quality with affordable prices.”

Gifts & Celebrations
2010 Argyle Extended Tirage Brut – 93 Points: Outstanding; a wine of superior character and style
“A lovely hint of age adds dimension to this luxurious yet fresh and bright bubbly. Offers notes of apple and orange zest, with caramelized almonds and candied ginger. Drink now.” –Tim Fish

Weeknights & Brunch
2016 Argyle Vintage Brut – 91 Points: Outstanding; a wine of superior character and style
“Vibrant and fresh, with bright lemon zest and roasted pear flavors with accents of yeast roll and spice.” –Tim Fish