Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs (1.5 Liter Magnum) 1996
In 1965, Jack and Jamie Davies founded Schramsberg and set out to make world-class sparkling wine in the true méthode traditionelle style on the property originally established in 1862 by German immigrant Jacob Schram. There were only 22 bonded wineries in Napa Valley and fewer than 100 acres of California vineyards planted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Schramsberg was the first California winery to provide a Blanc de Blancs in 1965 followed by a Blanc de Noirs in 1967. Now their son, Hugh Davies, leads the winery’s management and winemaking team.
The Schramsberg estate in Napa Valley’s famed Diamond Mountain District is a registered historic landmark with Napa’s first caves, hand-dug in the 1880s, and its first hillside vineyards. Quality focus drives all aspects of wine production starting with access to over 120 cool-climate sites in Carneros, Marin, Mendocino and Sonoma, which result in over 200 separate lots. Unique among California sparkling wine houses, Schramsberg ferments about 25 percent of its juice in oak barrels to produce rich, flavorful, complex wines.
Most of Schramsberg’s viticultural and winemaking practices are carried out by hand: grapes are hand harvested, the wines are handcrafted, and the bottles are stacked and riddled in underground caves. The family and the winery embody excellence and innovation in winemaking, as well as preservation of their land, their history and their community.
One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production as well as tourism, the Napa Valley was responsible for bringing worldwide recognition to California winemaking. In the 1960s, a few key wine families settled the area and hedged their bets on the valley's world-class winemaking potential—and they were right.
The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980s, when producers scooped up vineyard lands and planted vines throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, and today Napa is home to hundreds of producers ranging from boutique to corporate. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Napa whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that claim specific characteristics based on situation, slope and soil. Farthest south and coolest from the influence of the San Pablo Bay is Carneros, followed by Coombsville to its northeast and then Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford. Above those are the warm St. Helena and the valley's newest and hottest AVA, Calistoga. These areas follow the valley floor and are known generally for creating rich, dense, complex and smooth red wines with good aging potential. The mountain sub appellations, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs, include Stags Leap District, Atlas Peak, Chiles Valley (farther east), Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Spring Mountain District and Diamond Mountain District. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from a lot of time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
Representing the topmost expression of a Champagne house, a vintage Champagne is one made from the produce of a single, superior harvest year. Vintage Champagnes account for a mere 5% of total Champagne production and are produced about three times in a decade. Champagne is typically made as a blend of multiple years in order to preserve the house style; these will have non-vintage, or simply, NV on the label. The term, "vintage," as it applies to all wine, simply means a single harvest year.