Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Sparkling Wines & Champagne

Domaine Chandon's Yountville Vineyard

Domaine Chandon (owned by Moët & Chandon) set up shop in Napa Valley about twenty-five years ago, and after its initial success, almost every French Champagne house has come to California to establish its foothold. The main reason for their interest in the New World is that Champagne is a geographically limited area, which is almost fully planted, and California was virgin territory for sparkling wine. While the legacy of Champagne seems to be tiny pinpoint bubbles that reveal delicate and subtle flavors, their California counterparts are more often bold, upfront and fruity with their flavors. The prevailing wisdom is that the delicate nuances of the wine (in particular, Champagne) get lost when paired up with hearty, complex or highly seasoned dishes. It's certainly the perfect apéritif wine. All California sparklers are of good quality so it seems to be a matter of house style as to what is preferred. Names to remember are Domaine Chandon, Domaine Carneros, Gloria Ferrer, Laetitia, Mumm Napa, Mirassou, Pacific Echo, Roederer Estates, Schramsberg, Iron Horse and J.

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