The Sophora Sparkling Cuvée is 52% Chardonnay and 48% Pinot Noir sourced from vineyards in the Gisbourne and Hawke’s Bay districts of New Zealand’s North Island. Most of the reasonably priced New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc you see on store shelves come from Marlborough on New Zealand’s South Island. Sophora is the Sparkling wine brand from Distinguished Vineyards, who also own Argyle Wines (Oregon) and St. Hallet Wines (Australia) along with several others. This is a Sparkling wine produced in the Traditional Method, the same process used in Champagne. The 2nd fermentation, where the bubbles are added, occurs in each and every bottle. The wine is fermented the 1st time and bottled, before it is temporarily capped, sugar and yeast are added to each bottle. The chemical reaction to the yeast devouring the sugar releases gases, when trapped in the bottle form bubbles in the wine. The bottle is then aged for 12 months, then the dead yeast and gunk are removed and the bottle is topped off to the proper level and slightly sweetened and there you go, Bubbly. This is an Extra Dry Sparkling wine, which does not mean it is Dry (not sweet). With Bubbly things are backwards, Extra Dry is the lowest of the sweetness levels, so this is Bubbly with a slightly sweet edge. The alcohol level is 12%.
The color is golden with an amber tint, with tons of tiny happy bubbles. The nose is almonds, lemon, bread and spring flowers. The Sophora is tart upfront, then softens on the mid-palate. It tastes of cherry, limes, cashews, grapefruit, a little crusty bread and ripe, tart apple. There is a very tasty mix of flavors. The acidity is balanced and the finish starts off strong and slowly fades away
Sparkling wines are the best bargains available in the wine world. It seems that nobody will spend a great deal of cash on Bubbles unless the bottle comes from Champagne. That leaves all the other Bubbly’s vying for the medium to value priced market and there are all sorts of under-priced quality Sparkling wines on the shelves. The Sophora Sparkling Cuvée is very well made, unusually delicious and lists for $16 and with the holidays coming up, you can probably start to find it on sale, making it even more of a bargain. I like Champagne, I like it a lot, but there are just so many wonderful Sparkling wines available at very attractive prices. I can get 2 bottles of Sophora, for the same price as 1 bottle of entry-level Champagne . My enjoyment level with the Sophora will basically be the same as with the Champagne, only I will have twice as much to enjoy.