MENDOCINO Co., 12/22/22 — The time to celebrate the New Year is here and sparkling wine will make an appearance at parties and gatherings across Mendocino County. More area wineries are producing sparkling wines, expanding Mendocino County’s reputation as a world-class wine region. Here are five locally crafted sparkling wines to share and sip with friends and family as you ring in the New Year (and beyond!). 🍾🥂
A taste of France in Anderson Valley: Roederer Estate Brut Rosé ($35)
If it’s good enough for the White House, it’s good enough for your holiday party! Roederer Estate’s multi-vintage rosé comprises a blend of 56% pinot noir and 44% chardonnay and is crisp, acidic, and has light notes of strawberries and raspberries and a delicate brioche you expect from a fine Champagne. It’s not only delicious, but beautiful in the glass due to its salmon color. Roederer Estate is the closest thing you’ll find to French Champagne in the region — the Anderson Valley winery serves as the American outpost of the famed Champagne Louis Roederer, one of the oldest family-owned Champagne houses in France.
Perfect for cheese pairings: Pennyroyal Farm 2019 Blanc de Noir ($49)
Pennyroyal Farm is known for adorable goats, delicious cheese, and yummy wines, including this sparkler. A small portion of the winery’s estate pinot noir is set aside for this wine, specifically the 115 Dijon clone, resulting in elegant wines with a lot of acidity to make your mouth water. It’s highly effervescent, with notes of quince, slightly tart crab apples and warm brioche tones like biscuits straight from the oven. Given Pennyroyal’s reputation as a creamery, this wine is a perfect pairing for your holiday cheese plates, specifically young and salty cheeses.
The organic pick: Toulouse 2017 Goose Bubbles ($55)
My first taste of Toulouse’s sparkler was at Sip Wine Bar in Fort Bragg. After my first glass, I immediately added it to my “must buy” list. Toulouse produces wines using sustainable organic methods, from the compost used in the vineyards to the native yeast that ferments the wine. This sparkling is 100% pinot noir with notes of Lake County’s famed Bartlett Pears, which adds a mild sweetness, and the acidity and crispness of a fresh Granny Smith apple picked from the tree. The bottle’s label, with its gold Toulouse goose, will charm party guests, too.
Go natural: Fathers + Daughters Sarah’s Rustic Bubbles 2021 ($21)
Philo-based Fathers + Daughters has been producing pétillant-naturel, or simply called pét-nat, wines since before it was cool. Pét-nats are a hands-off, rustic style of sparkling wines that have been produced for centuries, even before the Champagne so many of us know and love was produced in the 5th century. This pét-nat is made from Anderson Valley chardonnay and is funky, fruity and unique with its notes of Meyers lemon, nectarine and graham crackers. It makes a great host gift for your favorite wine nerd. Call me biased, but the name is nice, too. Pro-tip: open this wine slowly and don’t worry about the sediment at the bottom of the bottle, that’s normal for pét-nats.
A local legacy: Nelson Family Vineyards Blanc de Noirs ($36)
The Nelson family has been tending to their 2,000-acre ranch, complete with 200 acres of vineyards, as well as olive trees, a pear orchard, and a Christmas tree farm, for over 70 years. When I visited the Nelson Family Vineyards tasting room for the first time, nestled in a hillside redwood grove just off Highway 101 north of Hopland, I couldn’t get enough of this sustainable sparkling wine produced with 83% pinot noir and 17% pinot meunier. It’s a crisp wine with delicate fruit notes of red berries, cherries and a refreshing minerality. Serve this as an aperitif or pair it with dungeness crab cakes.
Sarah Stierch covers food, beverage, culture and breaking news for The Mendocino Voice. Contact Stierch at [email protected]. The Voice maintains editorial control and independence.