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Schramsberg 1998 J. Schram Rosé

At just about the same time we published our unique “Guide to the Best Wineries of North America” in 1998, the winemaking team at Schramsberg—headed by Jack and Jamie Davies—set out to develop a flagship Rosé, produced in a very artisanal fashion. This is a Méthode Champenoise American sparkling wine made to rival the best from Champagne, with a perfect assemblage from selected grapes of prized vineyards: 50 percent Napa, 21 percent Mendocino, 18 percent Monterey and 11 percent Sonoma/Marin coast.

Today, second-generation vintner Hugh Davies is proud to bring to market a limited-production release—only 800 cases will be produced—that is sure to be a conversation popper. “This is a polished marriage of Chardonnay (76 percent) and Pinot Noir (24 percent),” says Davies. “We have weaved together small lots of wines fermented in stainless steel tanks with lots fermented in French oak barrels.”

As we sampled this $120 cuvée, our taste buds could not disconnect from Champagne benchmarks and it was rather tricky to be a fair judge—especially considering all our reviewed wines are rated on the same scale. One thing to keep in mind is that this bottle was aged for seven years following secondary fermentation, although we think it could age for a longer time and still present an intense and distinguishingly refreshing character. The fine bubbles reveal an array of flavors in this dark pink sparkler. There is spice and there is fruit, with a dominance of berry and citrus flavors on the palate. “This Rosé is aged and complete, with elegance and distinction,” claims winemaker Craig Roemer. You may certainly enjoy it by itself, but this robust beverage can take you through a meal as well.

Suggested Price: $120

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