Piper Sonoma Brut is made in the the traditional manner of the Champagne region in France. The grapes, a classic blend of 60% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier, are hand-harvested early in the season in order to ensure high acidity and low potential alcohol. Lots from vineyards in Sonoma, Carneros and Dry Creek Valley are fermented separately in stainless steel. In early winter, the wines are tasted and painstakingly blended in order to create a cuvée that maintains consistency with earlier vintages. The final blend is bottled with bit of yeast and sweetness to kick off the second fermentation inside each bottle. After 18 months of aging on the lees and further blending with 20 – 25% reserve wines (hence, the non-vintage dating), this delightful sparkling wine is ready to drink. Combining the sophistication and elegance of fine Champagne with the sunshine and bright fruit of California, Piper Sonoma offers value that says “no special occasion necessary!”
Piper Sonoma was established in 1980 as part of a wave of investment in California by French Champagne houses. In the 1970s, demand for Champagne was growing while the ability to increase supply was slim due to the finite size of the Champagne region. “Go West” seemed like a good idea. While Möet, Mumm and Tattinger planted vineyards and built wineries in the Napa Valley, and Roederer set down roots in Mendocino, the house of Piper-Heidseick, led by the Marquis d’Aulan, settled on Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. He saw that the RRV’s cool climate and diverse soils would not only produce the grapes used in Champagne (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) but impart them with the acids and flavor profiles that make sparkling wine delicious. At that time, land was relatively cheap, and because Sonoma County was the unglamorous neighbor to the more glitzy Napa Valley, the winery could downplay visitor facilities and focus on making the wine and building the brand. Since the start, Piper Sonoma has consistently performed as one of the top 5 of domestic sparkling wines in the over $15 dollar category. Keith Hock took over winemaking in 2015, having honed his sparkling and still winemaking skills at Schramsberg, Saintsbury and Rudd Estate. He pursues a minimalist winemaking style to produce elegant and balanced wines that emphasize the varietal characteristics of the grapes as well as their individual growing sites. Despite the size of the production, he utilizes small lot fermentations, site specificity, and works closely with growers in the vineyard. He also applies the Méthode Champenoise, the same technique used in Champagne. Vineyard lots are hand-harvested, fermented and aged separately. Primary fermentation takes place in tanks and barrels before the blend is assembled and bottled and left to undergo second fermentation. After some years of aging on the lees, riddling and disgorging follow, with aged reserve wines used for the dosage to add complexity. The resulting wines are dry and smooth with a rich, creamy texture and can be enjoyed upon release or cellared for ten years or more. Today, after nearly 40 years, while ownership of Piper Sonoma has changed a few times, the dedication to making excellent, Champagne-inspired, sparkling wine has never waned. Sales and marketing for the brand is managed by Folio Fine Wine Partners, the group founded by Michael Mondavi and his wife, Isabel.
|Varietal(s)||60% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Meunier, 15% Pinot Noir|
|Bottle Size||8.9 x 32.0|
|Case Size||37.5 x 28.5 x 33.0|
Pale gold in color, the wine delights with petite bubbles and delicate aromas of ripe apple, toast and peach. The palate is dry, crisp and bright with fresh citrus notes and a long elegant finish with hints of strawberry and vanilla smoke.
Fermented first in stainless steel and secondly inside the bottle and then aged 18 months on the lees.