Wine X Staff
Wine X Online Edition
Coming off of the NYE champagne season, some of you peeps probably realized you’ve forgotten how much you like bubbles. It happens, fortunately, there is a well-timed, annual reminder to bring us back to our senses.
Ever since Dom Perignon allegedly exclaimed, “Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!” after his first sip of Champagne, the world’s love affair with sparkling wine has been unstoppable. At Wine X Magazine, we love exploring the effervescent world of sparkling wine, and in this feature, we’re about to uncork an American favorite – Napa Valley’s Sparkling Wines. We’ll take a closer look at a pioneer in the field, the venerated Schramsberg Vineyards.
An Overture to Sparkling Wine
Before we embark on our vinous journey, let’s revisit the bubbly basics. Sparkling wine is characterized by significant levels of carbon dioxide, resulting in fizzy effervescence. The bubbles are the result of a secondary fermentation process, which, in the case of high-quality sparkling wines like Champagne and its worthy competitors, happens in the bottle.
Napa Valley’s foray into the sparkling wine landscape was not just an audacious attempt but a testament to the region’s viticultural versatility. The region’s Mediterranean climate, diverse soil types, and range of elevations make it a dream for winemakers, including those crafting sparkling wines.
The Dawn of Napa’s Sparkle
Napa Valley’s sparkling wine story dates back to the mid-19th century when the Beringer Brothers began experimenting with sparkling wine production. However, it wasn’t until the Schramsberg Vineyards arrived on the scene that Napa’s sparkling wine gained significant recognition.
Founded in 1862 by Jacob Schram, Schramsberg Vineyards initially produced still wines. Fast forward to 1965 when Jack and Jamie Davies revitalized the winery, pivoting towards producing America’s first méthode champenoise sparkling wine. They realized that Schramsberg’s cool, mountainous location was ideal for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – the two primary grapes used in the making of Champagne.
Schramsberg Vineyards: A Legacy of Excellence
The Davies’ vision was not merely to emulate French Champagne. They aimed to create a distinct, top-quality American sparkling wine that could hold its own on the international stage. Today, under the skilled hands of their son Hugh Davies, Schramsberg’s sparkling wines continue to inspire and delight.
There are several factors contributing to Schramsberg’s success. Firstly, the winery sources its grapes from over 120 different vineyards scattered across Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino Counties. This wide variety ensures a broad palette of flavor profiles. Secondly, the age-old méthode champenoise is honored at Schramsberg. Each bottle is aged in their historic Diamond Mountain caves, some for as long as ten years.
Sipping the Stars at Schramsberg
At Schramsberg, the art of blending is revered. Their range of sparkling wines showcases the diversity and complexity achievable through meticulous grape selection, fermentation, and blending.
The ‘Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs’ was the first wine produced by the Davies in 1965. Made from 100% Chardonnay, this wine offers crisp, vibrant acidity balanced with notes of green apple, citrus, and brioche. Its prestige was cemented when it was served at the “Toast to Peace” in Beijing, between President Richard Nixon and Premier Zhou Enlai in 1972.
Not to be overlooked is the ‘Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs.’ Introduced in 1967, it was the first Blanc de Noirs made in the US. It’s a predominantly Pinot Noir sparkling wine that exudes aromas of cherry, strawberry, and toasty nuances.
For those who prefer a richer, more luscious style, the ‘Schramsberg J. Schram’ named in honor of the vineyard’s founder, and ‘Reserve’ are excellent options. Both are late-disgorged and show deep, complex flavors – a testament to their extended time on the lees.
Napa Sparkling: Beyond Schramsberg
While Schramsberg stands out as a shining beacon, the sparkling scene in Napa is growing. Domaine Chandon, Mumm Napa, and Domaine Carneros have all proven that Napa Valley can produce outstanding sparkling wines.
However, Schramsberg’s commitment to quality, tradition, and innovation has undoubtedly played a key role in paving the way for sparkling wine in Napa Valley and beyond. Their wines stand as a testament to the audacity of Napa’s wine pioneers and the potential of American soil.
As we raise a toast to Napa Valley’s sparkling wines, it is hard not to be moved by the story of Schramsberg Vineyards. It is a story of vision, passion, and relentless pursuit of excellence, and of a family’s determination to create a wine that could stand among the world’s best. Napa’s bubbles are undoubtedly shining brighter than ever, thanks to the foundation laid by pioneers like Schramsberg.
A few X Rated Reviews
2020 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, Napa Valley Schramsberg’s Blanc de Blancs is crispier than an autumn leaf and partying harder than a Mardi Gras parade. It’s a tropical-bakery mashup on the nose. Take a sip, and BOOM! You’ve got a mouthful of fireworks – green apple, almond pastry, and a surf’s-up wave of minerals. The finish? As smooth as a Sinatra hit but fresher than a newbie boyband. Wine X sez: XXX. Sip it, don’t trip it.
2019 Schramsberg J. Schram, Napa Valley The Schramsberg J. Schram is all 007, with the tuxedo sophistication to boot. On the nose, it’s a high-society cocktail soiree – ripe fruits, toasted hazelnuts, and a hint of caramel playing coy. First sip, and you’re in a flavor circus, with tart fruits and a honey-lemon duo performing tricks. The bubbles are smoother than a conman’s patter, and the finish is as teasing as a mystery novel. Wine X sez: XXX. This sparkler is more A-list than the Oscars’ red carpet.
2020 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs, Napa Valley Step aside, folks, Schramsberg’s 2023 Blanc de Noirs is strutting its stuff like a rockstar on a world tour. The nose is a red fruit jam session with a buttery toast bassline. On the palate, it’s a mosh pit of cherry and strawberry, with a bit of earthy grunge thrown in. The finish? Encore-worthy, leaving a lasting impression like a catchy chorus. Wine X sez: XXX. This Blanc de Noirs doesn’t just steal the show, it is the show.