In full disclosure, I am not a big fan of California sparkling wines. I am a fan of Champagne, but that is just my taste preference. I actually did a search on over 1500 articles I have written and only one other was on a sparkling! So about ten days ago, when we visited one of my favorite wineries in Napa Valley, Crocker & Starr and they poured a sparkling, I was a bit taken back. They made this sparkling wine for their 25th anniversary. It was served just after their Sauvignon Blanc and while it was a warm day, the first sip was refreshing.
Upon further consideration and examination, this sparkling caught my attention. Here was a wine with a bouquet, color and tasted, dare I say, almost like a Champagne. At least the closest sparkling I have tasted that reminded me of Champagne tasting in the unofficial capital of Champagne in Reims, France. Reims is the headquarters for many of the Champagne houses. Reims and its Cathedral Notre-Dame de Reims is where French Kings were crowned for a thousand years. Definitively a must see visit when doing Champagne tasting. As an aside, Reims is the site of the unconditional German surrender in 1945 at the end of World War II.
On the eyes, effervescent bubbles dance in merriment to the top of glass with the excitement they are about to bestow. A beautiful soft and pale golden color. On the palate, white peach, mild lemon meringue with a creaminess envelops the mouth. The finish has a distinct flavor, dare I say chalkiness like its cousins in Champagne? No the wine comes from the Carneros region, so really “no chalk” like the wondrous caves of Champagne regions soil. Yet the finish produced a smoothness, with the acidity kept in check, provided an elegant finish. The finish beckoned one to sip again and with only a 12% alcohol level, this on a warm afternoon hit the bullseye.
It is listed for $58. We had a “devoted Champagne aficionado” tasting with us (C.A.D.D. standing for Champagne All Day Darlene) and even she was taken back and wanted to immediately order some. It is made from 96% Pinot Noir grapes and 4% Chardonnay grapes.
While having Champagne in the cellar and even some Prosecco, I have up to this point, not kept any sparkling filling the racks. As the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus stated, everything is always in a state of flux and changing, so now is my view of sparkling’s! Another great job by Crocker & Starr.