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The French Connection

Sparkling wines were perfected in Champagne, France's northernmost wine district, where wines tend to be a bit acidic because grapes do not always fully ripen. That's why sparkling wines have traditionally been naturally tart, even austere. Because of their progenitor's birthplace, many sparkling wines are called "Champagne." However, this term designates a specific region, so it shouldn't be used for American wines. That's not to say that Napa and Sonoma County sparkling wines are in any way inferior to French ones. The French Champagne houses are fully aware of the excellence of the California product and have been quick to cash in on the laurels gathered by such pioneers as Hanns Kornell, Schramsberg, and Iron Horse by establishing sparkling-wine cellars in Sonoma and Napa with American partners.

Updated: 07-2013

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