A Spectrum of Sparkle

What Santa Barbara County Bubblies to Toast with on New Year’s Eve

Santa Barbara County boasts a bubbly in every shade of grape — from crystalline blanc de blancs to pale pink rosés and even garnet-hued sparkling shiraz — for New Year’s Eve or any occasion that commands the dazzle of effervescence.

Nearly 58 million bubbles intermingle with an abundance of flavors inside every bottle of sparkling wine and it is precisely this festive fusion that makes them so delicious. To create the fizz, sparkling wines are fermented twice — once in barrel and again in the bottle. Winemakers add yeast and sugar to a bottle of still wine, which produces tiny carbon dioxide bubbles. When the second fermentation is complete, the nose of each bottle is frozen and uncapped so that the remaining sediment can be removed. Then, one by one, the bottles are topped with sweetened wine and carefully re-corked. This elaborate process, called the méthode champenoise, produces sparkling wines with ethereal bubbles and intricate flavors.

Santa Barbara sparklers in particular reflect the vibrant hues and diverse terrain of our local landscape — something we’re happy to celebrate with each sip. Toast 2011 with one these bubbles:

Riverbench Cork Jumper Blanc de Blancs 2008: A lithe sparkling wine made from 100% estate-grown chardonnay with green apple, bright lime, and tropical nuances, balanced by a fine mousse and a toasty, yeasty finish.

Goat Bubbles Blanc de Blancs Sierra Madre Vineyard 2008: Meyer lemon flavors, Asian pear, hints of pineapple and macadamia nuttiness, framed by stony minerality, zesty acidity, and creamy texture. A refreshingly complex sparkler. East Beach Wine Co.,

Lucas & Lewellen Brut 2006: A combination of chardonnay and pinot noir fruit produce an elegant mélange of flavors—crisp apple, peach and pineapple—and flowers on the palate.

Goat Bubbles, Rosé Sparkling Wine, Santa Maria Valley 2009: Whole clusters of pinot noir from the Solomon Hills Vineyard produce layers of black cherry, pomegranate, and strawberry fruit flavors that intermingle with citrus zest and creamy textures. The Winehound, Vino Divino,

Oreana Blanc de Noirs (California, NV): 100 percent pinot noir fruit lends this sparkler a rosy-copper color and an elegant earthiness. Aromas of berries and dried orange peel lead. Cherry, wild berry, and dried currant flavors are accented by savory herbs. Vino Divino,

Municipal Winemakers FIZZ Sparkling Shiraz: Its deep purple color, violet-pink mousse, and unexpected effervescence make this a unique SB sparkler. Vibrant blackberry and strawberry flavors mingle mid-palate with cocoa and ripe cherry essences.

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