What, there is more than one sparkling wine made in the relatively small growing region surrounding the town of Sonoma? Gloria Ferrer (owned by the Cava producer Freixenet) may be the most widely known, but, yes, there are others — including many still wine producers who make a bit of bubbly on the side.
We recently tasted through a dozen sparkling wines from Sonoma Valley and here are a few worth seeking out. All of these are made using Methode Champenoise, which means the base wine is re-fermented in the bottle, not a tank:
While most producers in Sonoma choose to go pretty classic varietal-wise, using some combination of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (the grapes used in Champagne), one producer we liked the most went a different direction indeed. Viansa Winery’s “Scintillare” is made with the white Tuscan grape Vernaccia, which gives it a distinct of-the-earth rather than of-the-fruit fruit flavor — more gravel and mineral than green apple. It is also incredibly lively. It feels like a good time.
Robert Hunter’s 2001 “En Tirage” is aged for something like 10 years in the bottle with the lees (en tirage, get it?) This wine most closely resembles the style of Champagne, with its toasty brioche character. The richness that comes from yeast can be so much more complex than fruit richness and in this wine, that is certainly the case.
Breathless: This here is your party wine. Started by three sisters, they make a Brut, a Blanc de Noirs and a Rosé. Each one is delightful and refreshing, if not especially complex and at $25, a picnic in the park is special occasion enough.
Bryter Estates “Le Stelle,” from the Sonoma Coast, is light, dry and refreshing. Certainly not their primary offering, it is available exclusively from the winey itself.