Is Schramsberg a champagne or sparkling wine?

Answered by Marvin Richey

Schramsberg is a , not a . While both champagne and sparkling wine are effervescent and often enjoyed for celebrations, there are some key differences between the two. Champagne refers specifically to sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne region in France and is made using the traditional champagne method, also known as méthode champenoise.

The méthode champenoise involves a two-step fermentation process. First, the base wine is made through a regular fermentation, where the grapes are pressed and the is fermented into wine. Then, a second fermentation takes place in the bottle, where additional and sugar are added to create carbonation. The bottles are sealed with a crown cap and left to age for an extended period, allowing the flavors to develop and the bubbles to form.

Schramsberg, on the other hand, is produced in California's Napa Valley and follows the same traditional method used in champagne production. The Davies family, who own and operate Schramsberg Vineyards, have been dedicated to crafting exceptional sparkling wines for over 50 years. They have honed their skills and expertise to create wines that rival the quality and complexity of champagne.

One of the reasons Schramsberg wines are highly regarded is their commitment to sourcing high-quality fruit from select vineyards in California. The grapes are hand-picked and carefully sorted to ensure only the best fruit is used in the winemaking process. This attention to detail is essential in creating wines that are balanced, expressive, and full of character.

The winemaking process at Schramsberg involves aging the wines on the lees, which are the spent yeast cells left over from the second fermentation. This extended aging imparts a rich complexity and creamy texture to the wines, enhancing their overall quality. The wines are then riddled, a process of gradually turning and tilting the bottles to collect the sediment in the neck of the bottle, which is later disgorged.

Schramsberg produces a range of sparkling wines, including their flagship wine, Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, which is made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes. This wine showcases the vibrant fruit flavors and crisp acidity that are characteristic of Chardonnay. They also produce a Blanc de Noirs, made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, which offers a fuller-bodied and more robust flavor profile.

In addition to their traditional method sparkling wines, Schramsberg also produces a small amount of méthode traditionnelle sparkling wine. This style of sparkling wine is made using the same techniques as champagne but is not produced in the Champagne region. These wines offer a unique expression of California terroir and are a testament to the versatility and creativity of the winemakers at Schramsberg.

While Schramsberg wines may not carry the prestigious label of champagne, they certainly rival the quality and craftsmanship of their French counterparts. The dedication and expertise of the Davies family and the Schramsberg team shine through in each bottle, making them a worthy choice for any celebration or special occasion.