Toast to the bubbly most with these five sparkling wines made in your region.
With New Year’s Eve just around the corner, the most important question a wine lover has to answer this time of year is what bottle they’ll be popping the cork on come midnight. While of course the world of wine has many options, those of us in the Pacific Northwest have an ever-growing selection to choose from. Here are some of my favorites for the holiday: all are made in the classic Champagne method.
The most acclaimed producer in the Pacific Northwest is undoubtedly Argyle, and they offer quite a few sparkling options, starting with their Vintage Brut (currently 2013). It’s a well-made bottle, and the bright acid definitely jumps out of the glass. Yet I found myself more drawn towards the Brut Rosé, which delivered rose petal aromatics, tart berry fruit and a slightly more complex finish. If you really want to celebrate, and you can find it, their Extended Tirage wine is something I’d put on par with many great Champagnes: rich, creamy and delightfully sensuous.
Turning to more bargain wines, we’re starting to see more affordable bottlings coming out of Washington, largely through the various properties of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. While the Michelle wines might be more recognizable, I also had a chance to try the new sparklers from 14 Hands, and I will tell you, I was very pleased with the rosé: for the price, I’d gladly put it up against many comparable wines from Europe. It offered floral notes and bright cranberry and cherry fruit while still being dry and crisp on the finish, with nice texture. For what it is, it delivers quite a bit of value.
Staying in Washington, Treveri Cellars has a strong lineup of interesting sparklers, from varietals from Gewürztraminer to Syrah. While several bottles intrigued me, the Blanc de Noirs is the one that delivers a dynamic tasting experience, dancing between hints of red fruit and creamy brioche notes. I guess I’m on a bit of a rosé kick!
One of the surprise standouts for me was the Scintillation by Syncline, a sparkling Grüner Veltliner that I kept coming back to. Something about the grapefruit and lime leaf notes of the wine just worked for me, with an ever-present freshness. I’d be extremely curious to see what some extended lees aging could do with this varietal, hopefully the good folks at Syncline will indulge that curiosity some day.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my current favorite sparkling wine producer, British Columbia’s Summerhill Pyramid. I’ve yet to have a bad bottle from this Kelowna stalwart, and while the Brut and Brut Rosé are both great, the 1998 “Ariel” is perhaps the best North American sparkling wine I’ve ever tried. Spending an almost insane amount of time aging on the lees, it has incredible complexity and depth of flavor, along with the creamiest, most pleasing texture you’ll find outside of Champagne.
Making good sparkling wine is challenging, time consuming and expensive, but the increased growth in this particular style of wine locally makes me so happy, as the Pacific Northwest has many of the necessary conditions for high-quality bubbly. With more wineries exploring the style, future New Year’s Eves will have even more options for you to try… and me to write about.
Zach Geballe is a sommelier at the Dahlia Lounge, the owner of Vine Trainings where he teaches wine classes, and a writer. He lives in Seattle, where he owns more wine than he can reasonably drink, but loves to share. You can find him at @zgeballe or vinetrainings.com.