I recently wrote a story for Sommelier India Magazine on the excellent sparkling wines of North America, and during the course of my research had the opportunity to taste three excellent bottles from one of the top producers in California: Schramsberg.
Its history goes back to 1862, and the experience gleaned over the past 150 years is evident in every bottle: These are wines that are as balanced, honest, and thoroughly delicious as any in the world. My tasting notes are below.
Schramsberg “Mirabelle” Brut NV
A beautiful, immediately appealing nose of delicate toast, berry fruit, graphite, and just a hint of gingerbread spice presage a persistent, well-concentrated palate of yellow plum, white cherry, hints of lemon and lime, seckle pear, and smartly calibrated acidity. This is fresh and well-crafted, and very food-friendly.
Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2008
Persistent, small-bead bubbles and a nose of brioche and graphite, with flutters of persimmon and smoky apricot skin, introduce this lovely ’08. It’s remarkably complex, yet still clearly holding back for a long evolution in the cellar. On the palate, it shows a creamy texture with a straight seam of super-bright acidity, lemon and lime flavors limned with crystalline minerality and, eventually, as the chill comes off it a bit, subtle tropical notes. This is mouthwatering and concentrated, clearly a young wine with the potential to evolve for another 20 years or more. Amazing value.
Schramsberg “J. Schram” 2004
Attractive, rich golden color with vivacious pinpoint bubbles. On the nose, notes of creamy mushrooms, minerals, graphite, marzipan, fresh-baked pastry dough, and perfect autumn persimmon sing through. The fruit is more lush at this stage of evolution, with these bottle-age characteristics, than I’m used to with most 7-year-old sparklers. The palate shows more mushrooms, as well as Asian pear, quince, and white plum, with a finish that lingers seemingly forever. The breed here is immediately apparent; what a joyous wine. Delicious now, it easily has another 10 - 12+ years on it if you choose...though it’s tough to resist now.