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Judging French vs. American sparkling wine

on 03/01/11 at 2:34 pm


Schramsberg GM Hugh Davies. Guess who won?

It was not meant to be a competition between French Champagne and American sparkling wines by any means, but as fate would have it, it sort of was. A mini Paris Tasting, sparkling style.

Schramsberg Vineyards staff sat down on Thursday, Dec. 9, as they had the day before, and have done each year since 1965, to taste its wines against other sparkling wines on the market. It is good not to make wine with blinders on. It is hard to see the forklifts coming, for instance, or other industry hazards.

Comparative tastings are common in the industry — they let staff taste its winery’s wines with others in the same style, same price range, or any number of other criteria.

The Schramsberg tasting was for tête du cuvée (meaning head or top blend) pinot noir based sparkling wines, as the one the day prior had been for chardonnay. Winery staff and guests knew only three things — that all of the wines were pinot noir based, that the wines were considered top-of-the-line (priced from $50 to $180), and that they were all purchased locally. Well, OK, maybe four things — that they were selflessly embarking on this tedious tasting for the greater good of sparkling wine everywhere and without a thought to the personal enjoyment of tasting grand Champagnes and sparklers, which are not always easy to afford.

{Full story via Napa Valley Register}

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