By Kimberly McDonald

I’ve lived in France, so I’m a little “spoiled” when it comes to…Champagne. I love everything about a good champagne. The taste, the bubbles, the way it adds a sense of occasion to any situation. And, I’ll admit, I am a little snobby when it comes to those “other sparkling wines”. Or so I was until I was introduced to the Schramsberg.

Schramsberg is the first Californian House of Sparkling Wines. The Napa Valley property was originally established in 1862 by Jacob Schram. He named it Schramsberg because in German, Jacob’s native language, berg means “hill”. So Schramsberg means “Schram’s hill”. It was in the mid 1960′s that the Davies family took over the operation, with the goal of producing America’s first méthode champenoise sparkling wines. The current generation of the Davies family continues to be true to the original spirit of producing the finest Californian sparkling wines.

The Schramsberg house boasts eight distinct sparkling wines. They actually only make seven wines, although at the winery you can purchase an eighth bottling that is only available here. This special bottling is the Brut Rosé that is produced to raise funds for the Jack L. Davies Land Preservation Fund, created in honor of the late Jack Davies.

I can only speak on the three that I have tried, but from what I have experienced, they absolutely earn their reputation as the premier American Champ…..oops….sparkling wine house. With May as our bridal month, I would quite highly suggest that anyone in need of something to toast a bride and groom with check out the Schramsberg offerings.

My favorite in the line is the Brut Rosé. First of all, it’s a gorgeous color. It has nice legs and comes out very bubbly. Perfect for celebratory occasions. It’s made from primarily Pinot Noir grapes and is on the dry side. It has a very smooth finish and would compliment almost anything on your menu.

A close second is the Blanc de Blancs. Also dry, this blonde sparkler is made from Chardonnay grapes. It’s so delicious, you’ll want to keep a couple of bottles chilled for spur of the moment guests, picnics in Central Park or as fabulous gifts when you’re invited round for dinner or a cookout.

If you’ve never had a multi-vintage sparkling wine, you MUST try their Mirabelle Brut. It’s deliciously fresh and crisp, and is a perfect blend of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. I recently took this to an informal champagne tasting at a friend’s apartment and it was the only bottle left bone dry…well before the end of the evening. It’s absolutely one of the finest of its kind, without being pretentious.

It is difficult for me to admit that this American Sparkling Wine rivals my top favorite French Champagnes but, to be honest, it really does. In fact, I think they should call it Champagne. It certainly has earned the title.

Originally published May 2005
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