California Sparkling Wine and the Champagne Style
There are those who are working very hard to produce a California Champagne analogue. They’ve found ways to get autolysis and malolactic conversion to happen in their bottles without too many additives. They’re working on a way to balance out the flavor lost with the absence of pinot meunier, which doesn’t grow well in California but makes up a large percentage of the Champagne blend. You have to do a lot of research to track down makers like Scharffenberger Cellars in Philo, California, who are committed to this ideal and the soul-crushing years of testing that have been required to get closer to their goal. But if that’s a priority, you can do it.
For the rest of us, who just want to enjoy some affordable bubbly from California, the range of California sparkling wines is impressive. And when you walk up to the shelves and see price tags that are a faction of the French price, you’ll know why. With a California brut, unless you’re picking the very best, most exclusive, you won’t be buying the same drink from a different country.
You’ll be buying the sparkler that is actually Californian in flavor profile and drinking experience, which makes it distinctly different from Champagne made with grapes grown at a different latitude in a colder, more European country.