9 Under-the-Radar Sparkling Wines

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  • by JILLIAN DARA
  • on DECEMBER 7, 2022
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Sparkling wines are the symbol of celebration. Though Champagne tends to steal the show on these occasions, there are many bubbles outside of this tiny region in France that deserve your attention, including right here in Wine Country.

Different styles of sparkling wine, from Blanc de Noir to crémant to cava, tend to fly under-the-radar, but once you’re in the know and savored your first sip, you’re in the circle for life. Here are nine under-the-radar sparkling wines from around the world to broaden your bubbly horizon.

A bottle of Frank Family Vineyards Blanc de Blancs Frank Family Vineyards Blanc de Blancs, Napa Valley, CA, $55

This crowd pleasing Blanc de Blancs is a Frank Family signature, made from 100% Chardonnay grapes sourced from their estate Lewis Vineyard in Carneros. Its delicate bubbles are balanced with an elegant structure that offers a creamy texture on the palate. Tasting notes include lemon zest and green apple with a lingering toastiness of brioche. The wine’s minerality can cut through rich and nutty cheeses, making it a standout with charcuterie. A bottle of Peju Sparkling Province Peju Sparkling Province, Napa Valley, CA, $45

When this family-owned and operated winery introduced their Province white and red wines, proprietary blends created for easy-drinking, they quickly became fan-favorites. Peju adds to that portfolio with their inaugural release of Province sparkling; what they credit as everything you know and love about the classic Province blends turned into a festive rosé sparkler. The wine is juicy, bursting with the lushness of ripe cherries, but balanced by the tartness of dried cranberry and orange zest. Enjoy it with sushi or spicy Thai noodles. A bottle of Dutcher Crossing Sparkling Posterity Blanc de Blancs Dutcher Crossing Sparkling Posterity Blanc de Blancs, Sonoma County, CA, $56

Tempting imbibers with its aromas of pineapple and pronounced florals, Dutcher Crossing’s Blanc de Blancs is a first from the brand, produced from estate Chardonnay grapes grown in Dry Creek Valley. The pale straw wine impresses with flavors of lemon and guava on the palate with breakthrough notes of flint and roasted nuts. The vibrant acidity complements a traditional pairing of beluga caviar atop a blintz. If you’re feeling less fancy, Dutcher Crossing recommends serving it alongside buttered popcorn and a movie. A bottle of Hahn Estate Selection Blanc de Noir Hahn Estate Selection Blanc de Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, CA, $50

An elegantly crisp wine in a beautiful, rosy hue, Hahn Estate’s Blanc de Noir is produced from 100% Pinot Noir grapes sourced from their certified sustainable Smith Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands. The grapes were harvested by hand while sugars were still low and acid was optimal, which translates to the palate, complemented by bright notes of raspberry and cherry. A delightful sip with seafood paella or seafood pasta (clams, mussels, shrimp).

A bottle of Macari Vineyards Sparkling Cab Franc HORSES Macari Vineyards Sparkling Cab Franc HORSES, Long Island, NY, $29

All the texture and tasty vegetal notes from a Cabernet Franc tamed and bottled into a sparkling version? Yes, please. This pétillent-naturel (pét-nat) is unusual in the best way making it a bestseller at the North Fork-based vineyard since its first release in 2013. The fresh effervescence is accompanied by light red fruit aromas and flavors that are delectable with spicy soppressata and fatty prosciutto or tomato-based meatballs. A bottle of Listel Pet Nat Listel Pet Nat, France, $18

In a stunning shade of coral, Listel’s boldly labeled PET NAT is both visually and palatally striking. The French sparkling rosé is produced from a blend of Semillon and Carignan that lend to a fruit-forward wine with refreshing acidity and a natural effervescence that’s a result of partial fermentation of the fresh grape musts. This pét-nat is equally delicious as an aperitif as it is a digestif; try it both ways to decide for yourself. A bottle of Langlois Chateau Crémant Langlois Chateau Crémant, Loire Valley, France, $25

For a remarkable sparkling wine from France, you don’t need to break the bank. This reasonably priced crémant from Langlois Chateau, an estate dedicating 62% of its production to this variety, prides itself on treating its wines above category standards, which translates to rounded yet fresh crémant. This brut non-vintage is a blend of 60% Chenin Blanc, 20% Chardonnay, and 20% Cabernet Franc, with only the cuvée juice used, which spends 24 months aging on the lees. Pour it up with a light fish in a fresh or citrus sauce. A bottle of Llopart Cava Brut Nature Gran Reserva Leopardi Llopart Cava Brut Nature Gran Reserva Leopardi, Alta Penedès, Spain, $22

Produced in méthode champenoise, this Gran Reserva Cava blends equal parts Macabeo and Xarel-lo with Parellada and Chardonnay for a traditional showing of Spanish sparkling wine. The nose is bursting with ripe apples and there are some yeasty notes from its time in the bottle. A perfect pairing with shrimp cocktail or olives and crudites. A bottle of Chapoutier Esteban La Combe Pilate Brut Chapoutier Esteban La Combe Pilate Brut, IGP Collines Rhodaniennes, Rhône Valley, France, $40

It will be an unexpected treat for any guest when you pull out M. Chapoutier’s brut to toast the start to an evening. This 100% Viognier sparkling wine presents a zesty mouthfeel with its freshness and salinity that doesn’t necessarily require a culinary pairing for you to enjoy the wine to its fullest. So pop the bottle and just enjoy!

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Author

Jillian Dara

Jillian Dara is a freelance journalist focusing on wine, spirits, travel, and culture. She loves reporting on the intersection of them all for publications including Wine Enthusiast, VinePair, SommTV and Travel + Leisure. Jillian is partial to Napa Cab Franc but internationally she’s drawn to Carménère, discovered while living in Santiago, Chile, as well as a mineral-forward Albariño.

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