I've always believed there is no replacement for true French Champagne (with a capital "C".) But sparkling wines from American vintners such as Roederer Estate, Schramsberg, Argyle, Gloria Ferrer and Domaine Carneros are catching up quickly.

Sonoma's Iron Horse is another of our best sparkling producers, and this 2004 "Wedding Cuvee" is a great example why. Made primarily of pinot noir (thus, it's a "blanc de noir"), it has a bronzy hue and a most delicate flavor, like rose petals and pale berry fruit shimmering in a creamy fizz of tiny bubbles. It is somehow both rich and refreshingly dry. It's priced middle-tier for an American, but about even with French starter Champagnes. And it's worth it.

Iron Horse 2004 Wedding Cuvee costs $36.99 by the bottle in Pennsylvania State Stores (or $20.59 for special order by the case.) Available for $32.99 a bottle at Total Wine and Spirits in Cherry Hill.


Craig LaBan