Schramsberg: Vintage Sparklers
One topic that comes up a lot in tasting rooms is the absence of vintage years printed on bottles of Champagne and sparkling wine. Most of the time, the reason given is that the fruit used in creating the bubbly in your bottle comes from more than one particular year’s harvest, so it’s better not to show a year at all.
However, it seems that even when only one year went into a bottling, it is often an established tradition that keeps the bottles “year anonymous”. But there is one particular vintner who takes pride in putting the vintage on their bottles of sparkling wine, Schramsberg Vineyards. Nearly every one of their sparkling wines (except for “Mirabelle”) gets its vintage year printed right on the label.
This does make it easier to keep track of the “older-newer” bottles on the wine rack, but with a maximum storage life of between 20 and 30 years, who cares? People who can tell the difference in vintages by taste, that’s who. These differences are intentionally nuanced in the Schramsberg wines, keeping them interesting as time goes on.
To accent this, each year’s blend is carefully selected from about 105 vineyard sites. That’s a complicated process. We’re just glad to be able to enjoy the results!
Right now, their 2015 Blanc de Blancs is widely available, but there are still plenty of 2014’s available. Both of these have a wonderful floral character on the bouquet with a little stone fruit just to keep it interesting. If you try the Blanc de Noirs, there will be a little ripe cherry in there, making for an interesting comparison.
For summer enjoyment, there is their Brut Rosé. It’s all about raspberries and a general “red berry essence”; that’s so refreshing with a light salad on a warm day. There are a few other sparklers out there that amplify the character of a good rosé like this, but not many.
Of course, there is always Schramberg’s entry-level classic, Mirabelle Brut Rosé. Available at Costco for around $20, it’s totally a summer party wine and can be great for an informal gathering with light hors d’oeuvres. June wedding party plans? You’re on.
Total Wine has the Blanc de Blancs and some of their other higher quality selections (availability varies) for around $30. Good pricing, even by wine club standards.
Serve after extreme chilling in the fridge for hours (less than 45 degrees).