A historic name in California winemaking, Schramsberg was founded in the 19th century by Jacob Schram, who like many in Napa at the time was a German immigrant. The Calistoga property fell into disrepair during prohibition but was bought and revitalised by the Davies family (who maintain strong Welsh links to this day) in 1965. They set about with the ambition of making world-class sparkling wine, becoming the first American winery to use Chardonnay for this purpose. They quickly became the benchmark producer of the ‘Champagne’ method in California, to the extent that Richard Nixon chose to toast Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai with the Blanc de Blanc in 1972 – the so-called ‘Toast to Peace’. They have since graced the state functions of every President since (but not yet the current administration!). Setting politics aside this would be the perfect toasting wine on the 4th July, if that’s something you enjoy celebrating.
The Blanc de Blanc here is the house specialty, the most important wine in a chateau full of top sparkling wines. Schramsberg source from more than 100 vineyards right throughout northern California. This is 100% Chardonnay made from grapes grown in Napa (63% - mostly Carneros), Sonoma (30% - mostly coastal), Mendocino (4% - the most northern of these sites) and Marin county (3% - directly on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge). Around 20% of the wine is fermented in barrel, giving this a wonderful background of grilled almonds and brioche, and lemon meringue notes. It’s a great match for seared scallops and leeks, or even a canape salmon, cream cheese and blinis.