Every year I get excited for the bubbly tastings and this year, as I tasted through two flights of sparklers, I was taken by the quality of the top scorers. It made me think of the tasting I had once where I gathered a panel of American and French palates. I’ll never forget the surprise on the faces of the French tasters when the sparkers were unbagged. They were amazed at the quality of California bubbly and had thought some to be French. It was a “California comes of age” moment.
This week I roll out the second of two flights of California sparklers — $26 and above. As we discover these sparklers and others during bubbly season, I figure it’s a good time for a few pointers for the practical consumer:
1) Yes, it is possible to budget the good life. Tasty top picks under $25 include:
Roederer Estate’s NV Anderson Valley Brut
Domaine Chandon’s Brut Classic, NV California
Mirabelle NV North Coast Brut
2) A key serving tip: When chilling bubbly, never put bottles in the
freezer. Just put them in the fridge for a few hours or if you’re in a hurry
put a bottle in a champagne bucket half filled with ice and water for 30
3) Good eats with bubbly include: Hog Island Oyster, Sterling Caviar, smoked
salmon, steak tartare with cilantro or avocado, Pt. Reyes Blue Cheese and
sliced pears with prosciutto and hazelnuts.