Think beer is the beverage of choice for Independence Day?!? We beg to differ! As with any special occasion, sparkling wine is perfect, and what better way to celebrate the 4th of July than with a good old American sparkling wine! We are joined in this episode by our daughter Marianna whose birthday just happens to be July 4th (that is not a joke!) and her friend Jack who help us rate and review three sparkling wines from the states of Washington, Oregon, and California. We learn about how much sparkling is produced and consumed in the United States, and discuss many of the different states in which sparkling wine is made - it’s a lot. We even talk about the first state where sparkling wine was made, and it will surprise you! Join us for some fun and frivolity in our second annual American sparkling wine episode. And follow our daughter Marianna on her Instagram at munch.with.mar! Wines reviewed in this episode: 2019 POPUP Sparkling Wine, Chemistry Pinot Noir Rosé Bubbles, and Scotto Family Cellars Brut.
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Episode 80: Great American Sparklers: 2023 Edition 00:00
Hello! And welcome to The Wine Pair Podcast. I’m Joe, your sommelier of reasonably priced wine, and this is my wife and my wine pairing partner in crime, Carmela. And we are The Wine Pair!
Ok, a quick orientation for those of you who may be new to the podcast - in each episode we learn about, taste and give our honest review of three wines that are reasonably priced - meaning under $20 each - and should be easy for you to find. And, our podcast is made for people who love wine, who want to learn more about wine or find new wines to explore in a fun and un-snobby way. So, if that sounds like you, you are in the right place - and, we invite you to taste these wines or a wine from your stash along with us while you listen as a fun way to participate in the podcast! And we are proud to say that we are officially recommended by the editors of Decanter Magazine who call us fun, irreverent, chatty, and entertaining.
Well, Carmela, an important day is coming up as we record this podcast, and it is a day to celebrate for many reasons. And that day is the 4th of July. Now, for those of you not from the United States, that day is important because it is the day we celebrate our independence as a country. So that’s a reason to celebrate. And it is a national holiday, so that means that most people in the US get the day off, which is another reason to celebrate. But, maybe most importantly, it is the birthday of our daughter, and so that is our extra bonus reason to celebrate.
So, to celebrate all of those awesome things, we are going to do our second annual episode on great American sparkling wines just in time for the 4th of July. This is the 2023 edition, and this year we have some new fun sparkling wines to try that we did not cover last year - though I will say that we really liked the wines we tasted last year.
Now, I will admit that we constantly say that sparkling wines do not need to be reserved for special occasions - which is true - but we will also say that if you have a special occasion to celebrate, it is really hard to go wrong with a sparkling wine. I mean, basically we mean that there is never a wrong time to drink sparkling wine.
And, as we have said a million times, even though most people still call any sparkling wine Champagne, Champagne is a specific type of sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France. So, when we talk about this style of wine in the US or other places, it is correct to call it sparkling wine.
Enough about that. We are going to talk about American sparkling wines, the 4th of July, and then we are going to taste and review three American sparkling wines from three different states and all made with different grapes and one of which is actually a sparkling Rosé. . .
But first . . . we have to do our shameless plug, right Carmela? First, we want to start by saying THANK YOU for listening to us and for supporting our show, and if you have not had the chance to do so yet, now would be an awesome time to subscribe to our podcast - it is a free way to support us, and then you never have to miss a show! - and a huge thank you to all of you who have subscribed already - we really really appreciate it!
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You can also follow us and see pictures of the wines we are tasting and trying today on Instagram at thewinepairpodcast, and you can contact us on our website thewinepairpodcast.com and get the show notes and links to articles that we use for reference there.
And, as we do every week, we’ll tell you someone we think you should tell about The Wine Pair Podcast. And this week, when you hear this word, we want you to think of us The Wine Pair Podcast, and immediately tell the person you are talking to that they need to listen to our podcast - and that word is Fireworks
You’ve never been a big fireworks fan, have you? I used to love them like crazy, but I find now they are kind more of a pain in the ass than anything else.
ARTICLES and LINKS
Topic: Why American Sparkling Wines Are Great 06:50
So let’s learn a little bit more about what makes American sparkling wines so damn great.
First, it may surprise you to know that the United States is actually the 5th largest sparkling wine producer in the whole wide world, behind Italy, France, Germany, and Spain. And, those 5 countries account for about 80% of all of the sparkling wine production in the world, and the US accounts for about 6% of the total production, or about 162 million bottles a year. That’s a lot!
So, the United States are not slouches when it comes to making sparkling wine.
The United States is also no slouch when it comes to the consumption of sparkling wine. According to Forbes, where I am getting most of this information and you can find a link to the article and others in our show notes if you head over to our website and look for this episode, the US is number 3 in the world in consumption, behind only Germany and France.
Now, we mentioned this last year, but although there are laws regulating the use of the term Champagne when it comes to sparkling wine, some US producers have been allowed to continue to use the term as long as the vineyard was founded before 2006 and the geographical region comes before the word Champagne - in other words, California Champagne. I will say as a shortcut on this, if you see the word Champagne used on a sparkling wine outside of France, you can pretty much count on the wine being shit. Good producers will just call it sparkling.
There are some very high quality producers of sparkling wine in the US, and you may recognize some of these names, like Schramsberg, Domaine Chandon, Domaine Carneros, Roederer, Frank Family, and Gloria Ferrer. Many of these sparkling wines actually have direct relations with Champagne houses in France, by the way. And overall, the quality of sparkling wine in the US keeps getting better. The only problem with some of these wines is that they can be on the pricey end.
So, we are also seeing lots of lower cost sparkling wines come on the market that are also of high quality, and we think we have a few of those to try in this episode.
Most people know that the majority of sparkling wine in the US comes from California, but did you know that the first state to make bubbly was Ohio? It’s true! Another surprise is that New York state makes some sparkling wines, many of them made in the Finger Lakes area and from Riesling grapes. The great state of Washington makes a lot of bubbly, and another surprise is Gruet from New Mexico, which is one of my favorite US bubblies.
Overall, most states that make wine make sparkling wine in some form, including Oregon, Virginia, and Michigan. So, if you thought maybe beer was the real American drink and should be the focus for July 4th - and by the way, there is nothing wrong with knocking back some cold ones - we are here to tell you that nothing is more American than some good old American sparkling wines!
So, put away your Prosecco and Champagne and Cava - even though we love those sparkling wines - and grab some American sparklers this year!
And on that note, I think it’s time to learn a little more about the specific wines we are drinking today so we can help our listeners discover some wines just in time!
ARTICLES and LINKS
Sparkling Wines We Chose for This Episode 13:17
As usual, all of the wines we have chosen for this episode are under $20, and all of them should be relatively easy to find because I bought them all at wine.com. At least one of these wines I know we can buy locally in our grocery stores because not only have I bought them there, but we brought one of them to a party with our friends and they loved it! So there! But I would bet that you can find these wines or something close to them in almost any wine shop or grocery store.
I will also say that our love for sparkling wines has changed our POV on two types of wine that we did not have an awesome opinion of before - wines made from the grape Chardonnay and wines made in the Rosé style. And, today, all of our wines have a connection to those two things - Chardonnay and Rosé. In fact, Chardonnay is one of the classic grapes that are used to make Champagne in France.
The first wine we are tasting is the one I was alluding to earlier that we brought to a party and I think really surprised some people. The wine is called POPUP Sparkling wine, and it is unique in that it has a pop top, also sometimes called a “crown cap.” Now that mean strange, but first that is a very logical top to have on a wine like this because it keeps in the bubbles and is easy to take off, but also because when they make wines in the Champagne style, the wines are sealed and stored with a crown cap quite often before they are corked.
This wine is made from 100% Chardonnay, and it actually has a vintage, which is not very common for most sparkling wines because they often blend wines from other years to create consistency. But this one is a 2019.
POPUP comes from Charles Smith wines which is located in Walla Walla - where we just were a few weeks ago. This wine got 90 ratings from Jeb Dunnuck and James Suckling (boo!), and comes from a vineyard called the Evergreen Vineyard that is sustainably farmed. This wine is aged for 9 months on the lees in stainless steel tanks. On the lees means that the dead yeast and other byproducts of the wine are still in the juice as it ages.
This is also called a brut-style wine, so it is on the dry side.
The next wine is called Chemistry Pinot Noir Rosé Bubbles, and as you can guess, it is a wine made from Pinot Noir, and so not only is it sparkling, it is Rosé which we really do like. Again, another wine that made us change our minds about Rosé.
Chemistry is a winery located in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, and is evidently a collaboration between the Stoller Family Estate and Chehalem Winery. They say that they make these wines for the “weekly wine drinker” and that everyone should have access to high quality Willamette Valley wines. Which we agree with!
This wine got 90 points and Editor’s Choice from Wine Enthusiast, so I have high hopes for this wine! Although wine.com says it got 90 points from Wine Spectator, so I am a little confused.
This wine is also fermented in stainless steel, and it has very low residual sugar, so my expectation is that this will be very dry. Again, right up our alley!
The last wine we are trying is called Scotto Family Cellars Brut and is made from 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir which is a very classic Champagne style blend. The winery is not specific about where the grapes come from other than they come from the Lodi area.
This wine got a 92 from Wine Enthusiast, so again, a great score, and they also indicate that their wines are grown in a 100% sustainable way.
Wine Enthusiast also says that the wine is partially barrel-aged, and the winemaker says that each varietal was separately fermented first for 6-8 weeks, which is something I have not heard of before and don’t really know if that is typical or not, but it sounds super cool!
So, this will be fun - we have three different American sparklers from 3 different states, with three different wine blends, although just from two grapes total in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir - and I am super excited to see if we can find a couple of new sparkling wines to add to our favorites.
And so I say - let’s get to drinking! We’ll take a quick break and be right back. And, if you have these wines or similar wines, drink along with us!
ARTICLES and LINKS
American Sparkling Wine Pairing Tasting and Reviews 22:17
Wine: POPUP Sparkling Wine (Click here to learn more about this wine. Affiliate link)
Region: Washington State, Columbia Valley
Professional Rating: JD 90, JS 90
What we tasted and smelled in this Sparkling wine:
- On the nose: urine, pineapple, crisp green apple, toast, yeast, brioche, cinnamon, apple cider, apple crisp
- In the mouth: light sparkle, pineapple, tropical fruit, very little alcohol taste, not as sweet as a cider, lemon, citrus, lime, acidic, grapefruit
Food to pair with this Sparkling wine: Early evening drink, appetizer drink, charcuterie board, seafood, spaghetti and clams, oysters, clams, chicken, spicy foods, fried foods, stinky cheese, crowd pleaser
As a reminder on our rating scale, we rate on a scale of 1-10, where 7 and above means that we would buy it, and 4 and below means that we are likely to pour it down the sink, and a 5 or 6 means we are likely to drink it and finish it, but we are probably not going to buy it.
- Joe: 7/10
- Carmela: 7/10
- Marianna 6/10
- Jack 7/10
Wine: Chemistry Pinot Noir Rosé Bubbles (Click here to learn more about this wine. Affiliate link)
Region: Oregon, Willamette Valley
Grapes: Pinot Noir
Professional Rating: WE 90
What we tasted and smelled in this Sparkling Rosé:
- On the nose: strawberry, cream, strawberries and cream, watermelon, fresh, floral
- In the mouth: floral, rose petals, bitter cherry, finer bubbles, not quite ripe strawberry, strawberry leaf, bitterness, strawberry rhubarb, some citrus, bold, almost like a cocktail - a paloma
Food to pair with this Sparkling Rosé: grilled foods, smoky flavors, grilled vegetables, grilled chicken, charcuterie board, can be drunk on its own
- Joe: 7/10
- Carmela: 6/10
- Marianna 8/10
- Jack 7/10
Wine: Scotto Family Cellars Brut (Click here to learn more about this wine. Affiliate link)
Grapes: 80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir
Professional Rating: WE 92
What we tasted and smelled in this Sparkling Brut:
- On the nose: creme brulee, soap, Dove soap, vanilla, cotton candy, sweetness, apple crisp
- In the mouth: sweet, apple crisp, granny smith, hard sparkling cider, citrus, baking spice, cinnamon, lavender, creamy, soap
Food to pair with this Sparkling Brut: spicy Asian food, fish and chips, something greasy, fried chicken, chicken and waffles, chicken nuggets and honey mustards, General Tso’s chicken,
- Joe: 810
- Carmela: 7/10
- Marianna: 7/10
- Jack 8/10
Which one of these are you serving on July 4th?
- Carmela: POPUP Sparkling Wine
- Joe: POPUP Sparkling Wine
- Marianna:Chemistry Pinot Noir Rosé Bubbles
- Jack: POPUP Sparkling Wine
Taste profiles expected from these Sparkling Wines 42:32
- JD: a clean, pretty nose of tart lemons, green apple, and mint, with a good kiss of sulfur that takes some time to blow off. Hitting the palate with medium-bodied richness, it's nicely balanced and has integrated acidity, plenty of fruit, and a great finish
- Winemaker: Aromatic flawlessness coming forth on a delicate bubble. Lilac, yellow plum, pea vines, creamy and delicious. Tangerine oil, anise, stone and baguette. Mouth-filling, complex and so waiting for you.
- Winemaker: Sweet aromatics of Bubbalicious watermelon fill the glass with hints of peaches and cream as you pull away. The palate is dry, juicy and vibrant, making for an unexpected delight, showing flavors of watermelon and tart strawberry. There’s a richness that fills out the mid-palate with flavors of watermelon and tart strawberry that begs for another sip
- WS: Leading with a wheaty savor, this wine’s reductive notes resolve quickly to reveal a bright and juicy cherry-scented wine. It’s a plush and chewy crowd-pleaser for summer sipping.
- Winemaker: Ripe Fruit & Crisp Citrus, aromas of pear and ripe tropical fruit are followed by tinges of vanilla and brown spices
- WE: This richly textured wine has gorgeous aromas of toast and fig that lead into flavors of just-ripe Pippin apple and Bosc pear on the palate. Partially barrel fermented, it has an enticing mouthfeel that's luxurious and complex.
Outro and how to find The Wine Pair Podcast 44:20
Ok, so, Carmela, it is just about time for us to go, but before we do, we want to thank you very much for listening to us - AND if you haven’t done so yet, now would be the perfect time to subscribe to our podcast AND also a fantastic time to leave us a nice rating and review on our website or Apple podcasts or other podcast service - and it is an awesome and free way to support us and help us grow listeners.
We would also love to hear from you about a wine you would like us to taste and review. You can, leave a message for us on our website thewinepairpodcast.com, or you can just email us at email@example.com and tell us about a wine you are curious about, or curious what we think of it. And, follow us on Instagram so you can see pictures of all of these wines we are tasting and reviewing.
And, next time you listen to an episode, drink along with us and see if you are tasting and experiencing the same things we are - it’s like a date night! And if you do that, we’d love to hear what you think!
Alright, with that, we are going to sign off, so thanks again, and we will see you next time. And, as we say, life is short, so stop drinking shitty wine.