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TASTING REPORT Schramsberg Triumphant AS OUR BLIND TASTING SHOWS, THIS CALIFORNIA PRODUCER CAN CHALLENGE CHAMPAGNE—AND WIN by Anthony Dias Blue T Hugh Davies. he setting was lovely. We were in the private dining room of the Pelican Grill at the spectacular Pelican Hill Resort on California’s sun-splashed Newport Coast. From the terrace we could look beyond the golf course and see white sails gliding over the Pacifi c. Inside, each place setting displayed a line of six grace- ful fl utes each containing sparkling rosé wine—fi ve of them tête de cuvée champagnes. The remaining wine was a Napa Valley-born rosé from Schramsberg. The occasion was a special TASTING PANEL blind tasting. Our host, Hugh Davies, youngest son of the Schramsberg founders, the late Jack and Jamie Davies, lifted a glass and bid us to begin the blind tasting. Hugh’s parents had acquired the old Jacob Schram property in 1965 with the unprecedented notion of making a fi ne sparkling wine using the exacting French method of doing the key second fermentation in each individual bottle. Jacob Schram, a German immigrant, had purchased the property on the eastern side of Diamond Mountain, where he established Napa’s second bonded winery. The winery ceased producing in 1912 after Schram’s death. Schramsberg became famous in 1972 when President Nixon toasted the Chinese with it on his historic trip to Beijing. “Not too long after that,” Hugh told us, “there were Frenchmen at the door trying to buy the winery.” Luckily the Davieses didn’t sell. After tasting through the six remarkable wines, the 20 people at the table ranked them. When the rankings were tabulated, the Schramsberg 2000 J. Schram Brut Rosé ($130), the least expensive of the six—by several hundred dollars in some cases—fi nished a close second to the Roederer 2002 Cristal Rosé ($500). Other wines were non-vintage Krug Rosé, Moët & Chandon 2000 Dom Pérignon Rosé, Perrier Jouët 2002 Fleur de Champagne, and Veuve Clicquot 1998 Grande Dame Rosé. Not a bad showing for a California upstart. We then tasted through the rest of the Schramsberg line, an outstanding group of elegant sparkling wines plus the J. Davies 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, a stunning small-production blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Schramsberg is marketed by Wilson Daniels Ltd. 26 / the tasting panel / december 2010 Schramsberg Vineyards NV Mirabelle, North Coast ($23) Pinkish color; smooth and bright with tangy fruit and nice mousse; clean, lively and tart with fresh, racy fl avors and a good, long fi nish. 89 Schramsberg 2006 Crémant Demi-Sec, North Coast ($38) Lush, smooth, ripe and creamy, sweet and juicy; nice length on the fi nish. 90 Schramsberg 2007 Blanc de Blancs, North Coast ($36) Fresh and minerally; crisp, toasty, and racy with lovely balance. 90 Schramsberg 2007 Blanc de Noirs, Anderson Valley ($38) Lush and creamy, bright and weighty with balance; alive with citrus and raspberry fl avors. 92 Schramsberg 2001 Reserve, North Coast ($100) Rich and complex with toasty vanilla with spice; long, ripe, creamy and quite elegant. 93 Schramsberg 2003 J. Schram, North Coast ($100) Lush and bursting with sun- drenched fruit; rich, balanced, lively and long on the fi nish. 94 Schramsberg 2000 J. Schram Brut Rosé, North Coast ($130) Pale and creamy with nice vanilla tones; juicy, racy, tangy and fresh; toasty and elegant on the fi nish. 93 J. Davies 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast ($75) Dark, dense, rich and plummy with spice; velvety, lush, ripe and spiced with black plum and cassis, cherry; lush, long, balanced. 94 PHOTO COURTESY OF SCHRAMSBERG

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