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4 Sparklers for the Fourth

Robert Whitley on

If you're among those who enjoy a little pop in your July 4th celebration, the sound of a sparkling-wine cork exiting the bottle is probably music to your ears. With so many July 4th firework displays canceled due to the COVID-19 threat, opening a bottle of bubbly could well be the only discernible pop you hear.

With that in mind, I've selected four all-American bubblies to help you make it through the night, two in what I would describe as the top tier of sparkling wine in the United States and two I would describe as exceptional value bubblies that overdeliver in relation to price.

Always high on my list of top-tier sparklers are the Domaine Carneros brut rose ($44) and the J Vineyards Cuvee 20 ($45). The current release of the Domaine Carneros brut rose is from the 2016 vintage. The J Cuvee 20 is a superb multi-vintage brut that shows off the potential for bubbly made in the Russian River Valley, where pinot noir and chardonnay reign. You really can't go wrong with either of these beauties.

On the value side, the non-vintage Korbel Blanc de Noirs ($13.99) is a gem and probably the most consistent of all the Korbel sparklers, which, in general, are exceptionally consistent. Then there is a newbie (at least to me) called Bash! sparkling rose ($13.99). It comes with a generic "California" appellation, and it was a surprise gold-medal winner at the recent San Diego International Wine & Spirits Challenge.

And there you have it: your very own July 4th fireworks in a bottle!

Best Value


Wines are rated on a 100-point scale. Wines are chosen for review because they represent outstanding quality or value, and the scores are simply a measure of this reviewer's enthusiasm for the recommended wine.

Hahn 2019 Rose, Monterey County ($15) -- This producer has had excellent success through the years with its moderately priced portfolio of premium wines. I gather this is a blend of red grapes sourced from Monterey County because the individual varieties aren't listed. Nevertheless, you will find this stainless steel-fermented rose impressive for its freshness and balance, with exceptional persistence of flavor on the palate. It shows notes of strawberry and raspberry supported by vibrant acidity. Rating: 90.

Josh Cellars 2019 Pinot Grigio, California ($12) -- This latest pinot grigio from Josh is easy to drink and surprisingly complex, showing hints of lime, pear and melon with a subtle touch of spice. For the price, this is a superb summer sipper that will also pair nicely with steamed clams, mussels and freshly shucked oysters. Rating: 88.

Vino dei Fratelli 2018 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC, Italy ($11.99) -- During these days of shelter-in-place and takeout only from your favorite restaurants, there is a heightened need for good pizza wines. This Montepulciano d'Abruzzo from Fratelli fits the bill nicely, showing pleasing, ripe red-fruit aromas, mouthwatering acidity and moderate tannins. Rating: 87.


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