Champagne and Sparkling Wines are a favorite way to ring in the New Year. Champagne and Sparkling wine has significant carbon dioxide to give it the bubbly that we all enjoy. Originally this condition was considered a fault, caused in bottles of still wine in the area of Champagne in northern France. The early onset of winter in this area prevented the still wines from completing fermentation. As spring arrived the fermentation began again in the bottle causing a sparkling effect. It also lead to many bottles exploding in the cellar, thus earning the nickname of “vins du diable” or devil’s wine!
Dom Perignon, cellar master at the Abbey of Hautvilliers in Champagne during the 1700’s under the reign of Louis XIV first attempted to cure this fault, but later took steps to improve upon this process, picking the grapes earlier, selecting the best grapes and inventing the concept of blending.
Now sparkling wine is produced and sold in wine regions around the world. The term “Champagne” can now only be used on sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France. Sparkling wine produced in other wine regions have other names for these wines including Cremant from the rest of France, Prosecco in Italy, Cava in Spain, Sekt in Germany. In the United States it is called Sparkling Wine.
In the USA quality sparking wine production began in Sonoma Valley in 1892 by the Korbel brothers. As the sparkling wine industry grew some of the most notable Champagne houses in France set up shop in California including Moet et Chandon’s Domaine Chandon, Louis Roederer’s Roederer Estate, G.H. Mumm & Cie’s Mumm Napa, Remy Cointreau’s Piper Sonoma and Taittinger’s Domaine Carneros.
Today, sparkling wine is produced by many wineries throughout California. A sampling of California sparkling wine producers are:
- Chouinard Vineyards - Livermore Valley
- Domaine Carneros - Napa
- Domaine Chardon - Napa
- Elliston Vineyards - Livermore Valley
- Filsinger Winery – Temecula Valley
- Frank Family – Napa
- Gloria Ferrer– Sonoma
- Handley Cellars – Mendocino
- Korbel – Sonoma
- La Rochelle Winery – Livermore Valley
- Laetitia Vineyard and Winery– Arroyo Grande
- Mumm Napa– Napa
- Piper Sonoma – Sonoma
- Roederer Estate – Mendocino
- Scharffenberger Cellars – Mendocino
- South Coast Winery– Temecula Valley
- Thomas Fogerty– Santa Cruz Mountains
- Thornton Winery – Temecula Valley
- Westover Vineyards – Livermore Valley
So pick up a bottle of a California sparkling wine to bring in 2010!