Sparkling wine for the holidays

image of sparkling wines

Taste off of sparkling wine

Sparkling wine for the holidays – our recommendations

The Vintage Tasters gathered this month to blind taste six California sparkling wines to usher in the holidays. Taster Joe F. hosted the get-together, presenting six sparklers ranging from $15 to $25 per bottle. Two of the wines were Blanc de Noirs while the others were regular sparklers. If you are interesting in value and bargain sparkling wines for the holidays, this is a good place to start.

Unbeknownst to the tasters, Joe had slipped in a sparkling wine made in New Mexico (Gruet). The consensus was that all the wines, with the exception of one, were quite good and satisfying. In fact, the differences were slight and resulted in the most voting ties of any varietal we’ve tasted.

After totaling our scores, the results in order of popularity were as follows:

  • 1. Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs ($15.99 ). 90 pts. (WS)
  • 2. 2009 Domaine Carneros by Tattinger ($19.99) 92 pts (WS)
  • 2. Scharffenberger Brut Excellence ($15.99). 90 pts. (WS)
  • 4. Gruet Blanc de Noirs ($14.99) 90 pts. (WS)
  • 5. Jordan “J” Cuveè 20 ($24.99) 91 pts. (WS)
  • 6. Domaine Chandon Etoile Brut ($25.99) 91 pts. (WS) / 93 pts. (WE)

The most interesting result was that the most expensive sparkling wine (#6) scored the lowest, even though it was aged five years in the bottle and represented one of Chandon’s premier sparklers.

Many of these wines will be on sale during the holidays. The Safeway, Costco, Cost Plus and others will have significant discounts on these very well-made Sparkling wines.

Our next tasting is our annual “Splurge Tasting.” We will be tasting Brunello wines and the event will take place at Rocca’s Restaurant in Burlingame in January.


  1. Sorry guys I had to miss this tasting. But jury duty had priority. We love a nice glass of sparkling wines as an aperitif. The Gruet is one of my favorites and always look for it on sale.


  2. The Etoile from Chandon was listed as the last place wine. I on the other hand detected the aroma of the yeast that was left for five years. My first note was classy. The nose on this wine was totally different from the other five. Not everyone may enjoy it but I found the total mouth feel and bouquet to be most enjoyable. It will be on my list. Quite resonable when you consider how long it takes to produce this wine. Look at other late disgorged sparkling wines—you pay a premium..

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