Food & Culture
No Need to Wait Until the Holiday Season to Pop These Bubbles From Washington State
The best sparkling wines for fall
By Aimee Rizzo December 10, 2022
Reality check: sparkling wine doesn’t only have to be uncorked during the holidays or hot weather. In fact, it shouldn’t be reserved exclusively for New Year’s Eve while wearing those stupid glasses molded into the shape of numbers and/or enough sequins to power a drag show. Nor should it only be for summertime wedding toasts or backyard garden parties.
With the right bottle, the carbonated stuff can certainly be enjoyed throughout that sweet transition into a fun-size-candy-bar, pumpkin-carving, earlier-sunsets kind of feeling. And with climate change slow roasting the earth, doesn’t autumn just feel like an extension of summer at this point? How’s that for a reality check?
The following bottles are all from Washington, are all bubbly, and are all perfectly suited for whatever fall shenanigans you’ll find yourself in—even if that just means raking the leaves. Still, there’s a victory flute with your name on it.
Resulting in the Dijon hue of a hazy IPA, Grosgrain’s 2021 Lemberger Pét-Nat is concocted using grapes that were harvested from vines originally planted in 1976 — making said vines as old as (Shake Shake Shake) “Shake Your Booty” by KC and the Sunshine Band, “You Should Be Dancing” by The Bee-Gees, and “Dancing Queen” by ABBA. It was a hell of a year for disco music, but also clearly for putting down Lemberger roots. They’re some of the best bubbles you’ll find from Washington state — possessing a whiff that reminds me of Trix Yogurt, fruity with a sour zing, and fistfuls of golden raspberry, shavings of yuzu rind, and just a twist of baguette-like wheat. It’d get along just as well with a Sunday chicken piccata as it would a Sunday tailgating spread (go Hawks).
Piquenique’s Pinotosh is not exactly wine. Let me explain. This unfiltered operation from importer-turned-winemaker Tess Bryant and Niccolo Coturri produced pure autumnal majesty with this cider spontaneously fermented with grape skins. There’s nothing more fitting for fall than apples, especially when liquified. On first sniff, it’s vinegar shrub to the face, tart and tangy and a little floral. And on first pour, there’s incredible foam, not unlike the mousse of a freshly sabered Champagne, only stained cranberry-ruby. The grape skin contact gifts these bubbles with the backbone of a light chilled red — bone-dry, lip-smacking strawberry punch, used as an A+ fireside quencher or to strategically wash down a massive pork chop.
With the start of fall does come apples, sure. But it also marks the beginning of baking spices haunting our every waking moment. Which, in turn, means it’s more acceptable to host brunch soirees involving those things, via cream cheese-slicked cinnamon rolls, cardamom-kicked bread pudding, you get the idea. And for any occasion that requires mid-morning bubbles, I can’t think of a better bottle than Tirridis’ N.V. Blanc De Blanc R.2. Sporting some considerable zesty pineapple and lemon (hey, Chardonnay), it’s balanced by a vanilla bean-poached pear warmth that would totally rule alongside a stack of pancakes — or better yet, a cheese plate absolutely loaded with Beecher’s Flagship.
Strawberry rhubarb pie might as well be the official dessert of early fall. Here’s a treat that takes full advantage of summer fruit, stuffs it in a crust, and makes it work for spooky season. Ducleaux Cellars’ “I’m Already Sorry” 2021 Dolcetto Rosé Pét-Nat encapsulates all of that bright richness in a cool 750 milliliters. It’s fresh sticky jam bubbling on the stove. It’s golden-brown pastry. It’s all just really dang refreshing. Slug it with a slice of pie — of the strawberry rhubarb or white pizza varieties—and happy autumn to you and yours.