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Catherine Bugue reviews Paula Kornell’s top-notch Napa Valley, California sparkling wines

From the Napa Valley Wine Insider Digest: Feb. 21, 2020 series
  • Updated
Catherine Bugue

Catherine Bugue

With sparkling wine in her veins, and experience in every aspect

of its production through her father Hanns Kornell’s pioneering brand, it is no wonder that Paula Kornell’s first bottlings of her eponymous sparkling wines are top notch.

Demand for sparkling wine continues to soar in the U.S., and these sparklers may not be around for long, especially given the heritage and quality they offer.

2017 Napa Valley

Blanc de Noir

Using cool-climate Carneros fruit from Mitsuko’s Vineyard, which vintner Jan Schrem famously gave to his wife for Valentine’s Day (the gift was a box of soil from the 365-acre plot and carried the note “an acre for every day I love you”), this traditional-method sparkling wine (two fermentations with lees aging) is 98% Pinot Noir and 2% Chardonnay. Bright acid, vibrant red apple and guava fruit shine in this elegant sparkler.

Non-vintage California Brut Sparkling Wine

Take a sip and you’ll wonder how all this goodness can be made and packaged at its suggested retail price ($22-$25). This Chardonnay-dominated blend (with 20% Pinot Noir), also made in the labor-intensive traditional method, sends juicy green apple, warmer red apple and spiced Asian pear fruits across the creamy palate into a luxuriously long finish, which is not something wines in this price range generally pull off so spectacularly.

Catherine Bugue, the St. Helena Star’s tasting panel writer, loves writing about — and drinking — wine. She is also the co-founder of the Napa Valley Wine Academy in Napa. You can contact Catherine at

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