A Glamorous Springtime Giveaway: 2013 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Wine!

As I mentioned in my last Facebook LIVE “Wines of the Week” show, I’m craaazy about sparkling wines for Spring!  They’re bright, crisp and refreshing – pretty much the vinous equivalent of the season itself. So what better wine to feature in this month’s Glamorous Springtime Giveaway than something sparkling?

So this month I’m happy to feature a sparkler from one of my favorite producers, the 2013 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs Brut, North Coast, California (a $45 value)! If you’re a bubbly fan you really NEED to know about these wines. Acquired by Jack and Jamie Davies in 1965, Schramsberg produced the first ever California sparkling wines to match the quality and style of French Champagne. They also pioneered the Blanc de Noirs style in the United States, releasing the first such wine in 1967.


The Schramsberg Cuvées are aged in Hand-dug Caves on the Historic Property

“Blanc de Noirs” means “white from black” and refers to a white sparkling wine made from red grapes. Schramsberg winemaker Keith Hock keeps the wine’s translucent, golden color by immediately separating the juice from the pigment-rich skins. So this delightful wine is predominantly Pinot Noir (85%) with a dollop of Chardonnay (15%) added for length on the palate.

I love how the wine’s clear glass bottle allows the gloriously golden liquid inside to show through, while the gold foil and elegantly embossed script on the label give it added allure. On the palate, the Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs displays heavenly notes of citrus, peach, caramel and lemongrass along with the hallmark bread dough and brioche deliciousness we love in Methode Traditionelle sparkling wines. You just can’t help but be smitten by this wine’s richness and charm!


Harvesting Chardonnay Grapes during Camp Schramsberg

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of attending Camp Schramsberg, an experience which immerses participants in the cycle of sparkling wine production. From harvesting grapes in the vineyard to intensive seminars on pairing sparkling wine with food, to honing your sabrage skills – it is a MUST for anyone who loves sparkling wine. My participation really enhanced my appreciation of what goes into making these very special wines (to read more, please click here).

To enter The Glamorous Springtime Giveaway for the 2013 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs, simply leave a comment at the end of this post sharing your favorite Spring dish or ingredient – OR – your favorite Spring cocktail or wine. Whatever lights YOUR culinary fire! Entering is as simple as that AND for additional chances to win, please go ahead and leave comments on other blog posts. Each additional comment left on a post here on my website will count as one additional chance to win.


Honing my Sabrage Skills with Instructor Holly Peterson

This Glamorous Springtime Giveaway is open to anyone 21 years of age or older who lives in the continental United States. It starts TODAY, Wednesday March 14th and ends next Wednesday, March 21st, 2018 at 9:00pm EST when a winner will be randomly drawn. The lucky winner will be contacted immediately to arrange shipment/delivery – the cost of which is included as part of the contest!

Thank you in advance for your participation, best of luck and remember, you have to play to win so please leave your comments now. I’m looking forward to drawing a winner next #WineWednesday and I can’t wait to see your Spring-inspired Comments!


The post A Glamorous Springtime Giveaway: 2013 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs Sparkling Wine! appeared first on The Glamorous Gourmet.

5 Sparkling Wines for Ringing in & Enjoying Throughout the New Year!

A few days ago I featured these delicious sparkling wines on WPTV’s Holiday Show but due to time constraints we shortened the segment and I didn’t want you to miss out on these fabulous finds! While these sparklers are indeed perfect for ringing in the New Year, at these price points they are also perfect for enjoying during the week. If you make one vinous... Read More

The post 5 Sparkling Wines for Ringing in & Enjoying Throughout the New Year! appeared first on The Glamorous Gourmet.

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Champagne 101 & 7 Sparkling Picks for Ringing in the New Year!

With New Year’s Eve only a few days away, do you know your Champagne from your Crémant? If not, never fear, here’s your guide to sparkling wines from around the world along with six of our favorites available at The Wine Atelier.

First things first…
In any discussion about Champagne and sparkling wine it’s important to note only a sparkling wine from the 9,900 square mile Champagne region of France can actually be called Champagne. Even if a sparkling wine is made in the same method as Champagne but is from outside the region, it must be called something else. Other sparkling wines from around the world include Prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, Sekt from Germany, and Crémant from other regions in France (i.e. Crémant d’Alsace). So remember, while all Champagne is sparkling wine, not all sparkling wine is Champagne.

Methods of Production
As discussed, sparkling wines are made in many winemaking regions around the world utilizing a vast number of different grape varieties. However, all sparkling wines, regardless of where they’re from, must undergo a secondary fermentation in order to get their bubbles. This process follows a primary fermentation and blending of still base wines to create a cuvée that is then ready to undergo the bubble-making process. The method by which a wine undergoes its second alcoholic fermentation is critical in determining a sparkling wine’s  flavor, quality, ageability, and ultimately its price. Here are three of the most common methods:

1.) Invented in Italy, the Charmat Method requires a wine’s secondary fermentation take place in stainless steel tanks, not in individual bottles. Grapes such as Glera, used to make Prosecco, are well suited for this method which produces wines that are light, fruity and meant to be consumed while young and fresh. This method is very cost effective and produces sparkling wines which usually represent great values, making them perfect for “everyday” enjoyment and more casual occasions. Sparkling wines like Prosecco are also great choices for making sparkling wine based drinks such as Mimosas, Bellinis and Rosemary Pomegranate Royales, a Glamorous Gourmet favorite!

2.) In the Transfer Method, sparkling wine undergoes its secondary fermentation in individual bottles much like the classic Méthode Traditionelle, however, once the secondary fermentation has completed, the wine is transferred into stainless steel tanks where it is combined with other wines to undergo filtration and dosage. Dosage is the process which determine a sparkling wine’s level of sweetness (i.e. Brut, Demi-Sec). The sparkling wine is then put into new bottles and shipped out for sale. This method allows for complexity to be achieved in the final wine and also helps to keep bottle to bottle variation in check.

3.) Last, but definitely not least, is the Méthode Champenoise, also known as the Méthode Traditionelle or Traditional Method. This method of production requires that the wine’s secondary fermentation occurs in the same bottle the wine is later served from. While the aforementioned methods allow the wine to be filtered and even undergo dosage in stainless steel tanks, sparkling wine made using the Traditional Method must undergo the process of riddling to remove the sediment, a normal byproduct of secondary fermentation, from each individual bottle.

During the riddling process, the bottles are inserted into an A-shaped rack, also known as a “pupitre“, so they are parallel to the floor. Over time, they are gradually inverted in order to coax the sediment into the neck of the bottle where it is later removed through the process of disgorgement. Riddling can be done either manually by hand, or mechanically by gyropalette. Prestige cuvées are usually done manually which takes about three months while less expensive sparklers made in this method are done mechanically which takes approximately one week. As you can see, the Méthode Champenoise is more time and labor intensive than any of the other methods discussed, which generally translates to both higher quality and price. The Traditional Method is used to make Champagne, Cava and many sparkling wines from New World wine regions as well. Sparkling wines made using this method will usually have it prominently displayed on the label.

Serving & Glassware
Which glassware you use when serving sparkling wine will depend on the type of sparkling wine involved as well as the occasion. If you’re drinking a Prosecco or other reasonably priced sparkler for a festive occasion or even brunch, by all means break out the flutes! These elongated glasses make a festive presentation and are perfect for toasting a special occasion. If you’ll be enjoying a pricier sparkler such as a nice non-vintage Brut or vintage Champagne with some age, by all means reach for your White Burgundy glasses. The tulip shape of these glasses is perfect for appreciating the complex aromas and flavors of these wines. For older sparklers and Champagnes, you may also want to serve them slightly warmer than the recommended 45 degrees for most sparkling wines. As these wines warm up (i.e. 50 degrees), the more their aromas and flavors are able to be savored and enjoyed.

7 Sparkling Recommendations
Here are 6 of our favorite sparklers perfect for ringing in the New Year and enjoying throughout 2014!

Mionetto Prosecco Brut, Treviso, Italy, NV ($14): This wine is made from 100% Glera using the aforementioned Charmat Method. It is fermented entirely in stainless steel and has fresh and fruity aromas of citrus and green apple and on the palate is very dry and light-bodied. Prosecco is the perfect bubbly to enjoy on its own as an aperitif, or as a delightful complement to appetizers such as prosciutto or mild cheeses. It is best consumed fresh and young and will not benefit from additional aging. It’s also the perfect sparkling wine to use as a base for Mimosas, Bellinis or other sparkling wine-based cocktails like Pomegranate-Rosemary Royales.

Simonnet-Febvre Crémant de Bourgogne Blanc, Burgundy, NV ($20): Like Champagne, this Crémant is made using the Méthode Traditionelle, however, since it is from France’s Burgundy wine region, it is referred to as a “Crémant,” not Champagne. This wine is a blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir from 20 year old vines grown on clay and limestone soils – typical of the Chablis region. The result is a wine with fine bubbles, that is fresh on the nose with aromas of ripe yellow fruits. Drink this wine chilled as an aperitif, paired with a variety of hors d’oeuvres, or with a main course including rich seafood such as lobster and/or scallops.

Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs, North Coast, California, 2009 ($34): This domestic sparkler is made primarily from the red grape Pinot Noir, resulting in a complex, medium-bodied, brut sparkling wine. Schramsberg pioneered the Blanc de Noirs style in the US, releasing the first such American sparkler in 1967. Barrel and malolactic fermentation of particular wine lots add richness and body to this wine which is also made using the Méthode Traditionelle. The Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs is perfect for pairing with a variety of foods, including nutty cheeses, macadamia nut-crusted halibut, and roasted pork tenderloin. This wine will continue to age gracefully in the bottle for many years.

Gramona Gran Reserva Brut Nature III Lustros, Penedès, Spain, 2005 ($45): At Gramona, sparkling wines receive the longest average ageing time of any other cava and are never released until they are deemed ready. This Cava is named III Lustros because originally it was released to the market 15 years after harvest; however, currently it is aged 5 years prior to release. This wine is a blend of 70% Xarel-lo and 30% Macabeo that spends 7 years on the lees and is dosaged with 100-year-old Solera wine. This wine has aromas of oyster shell, citrus lemon, wet limestone and white flowers. The palate is well-balanced with a racy acidity on the entry, and subtle notes of apricot, lemon curd and quince that lead to a long, lingering finish. Drink now-2018 (95 points Wine Advocate)

Taittinger Nocturne Sec Rosé, France, NV ($70): While this offering easily wins the prize for most festive looking bottle, it also represents the latest release from one of Champagne’s most well-known houses. This wine is the partner to Taittinger’s existing Nocturne, a “sec” Champagne which has sweetness to it. The new Nocturne Rosé is a blend of 30% Chardonnay and 70% Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from about 30 different vineyards, aged for 4 years prior to disgorgement. With 17.5 g/l of sugar the wine is slightly sweet but pleasantly so and balanced by a cleansing acidity. Notes of ripe red berries  make this wine delightful to enjoy on its own or paired with a variety of cuisines.

Laurent Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut Champagne, NV ($75): In the 1960′s, making a non-vintage rosé Champagne was virtually unthinkable but Bernard de Nonancort, charismatic Chairman and CEO of Laurent-Perrier was just the man to make it happen! The Cuvée Rosé Brut was launched in 1968 in an elegant bottle inspired by those made in the time of French King Henri IV. On the nose are aromas of fresh strawberry, raspberry and black currant while fruit dominates the palate which is lively and well-rounded with admirable structure and a long, lingering finish. This wine pairs wonderfully with foie gras and red currants, roasted chicken with mushrooms and beef tenderloin.

Krug Grande Cuvée Brut Champagne, NV ($180): The indisputable Chanel suit of Champagne, each bottle of Krug’s Grand Cuvée is a study in meticulous attention to detail.  The Grande Cuvée is a blend of approximately 120 wines from 10 or more different vintages, some of which may reach up to 20 years of age. Blending many vintages creates the desired symphony of aromas and flavors which exudes complexity and elegance. The full-bodied Grande Cuvée delights with enticing aromas of toasted brioche and marzipan, and complex flavors of citrus peel, hazelnuts and spice.  It coats the palate with its richness, yet remains poised and elegant through the long, luxurious finish. While delightful on its own, this wine makes an excellent pairing for dishes from an extra mature Parmesan to a dish of turbot à la truffe. (97 points Wine Spectator)

I hope this guide to Champagne and sparkling wine helps you navigate the New Year in style. The Glamorous Gourmet & The Wine Atelier would like to wish you a very Happy New Year and we look forward to sharing more food and wine fun with you in 2014!


Camp Schramsberg Part Three: Riddling, Blending & Disgorging – Oh My!

Following a fabulous evening at the Library Wine Dinner at Meadowood the night before (read more about that by clicking here), it was nice to get a slightly later start the following day. After breakfast we hopped back on the buses and headed towards the winery in Calistoga.

Day two began with a tour of Schramsberg and its caves given by Hugh Davies himself. He explained that the estate, a registered historic landmark, has been painstakingly restored by his family when they purchased it in 1965. The Victorian house, the lower winery, the barn and the caves remain largely unchanged since Jacob Schram’s days. He also informed us of Schramsberg’s sparkling wines at historically significant Presidential functions including President Nixon’s “Toast to Peace” in 1972 with China’s Premier Zhou Enlai in Beijing China which featured their Blanc de Blancs. Schramsberg’s sparkling wines have also been served at official State functions by every U.S. Presidential administration since. As we entered the caves at the winery he explained they were dug mainly with pick axes and shovels in the 60′s. He also shared the details of a harrowing incident immediately prior to the release of the Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs. The press broke and his parents Jack and Jamie Davies had to stomp the grapes with their feet in order to keep production underway to meet their deadline!

As we made our way deeper into the caves, we reached an opening with multiple rows of riddling racks full of inverted sparkling wine bottles (above right photo). Here, Hugh introduced us to a gentleman by the name of Jesus who’d recently took over as Chief Riddler for Ramon who’d been working at Schramsberg since the 1970′s. Of Schramsberg’s total production of sparkling wines 80% is riddled mechanically using a gyropalette and 20%, consisting of their more expensive cuvées, is done by hand. Riddling is a very labor and time intensive process which is very important in the production of sparkling wine. By gradually displacing and inverting the bottle, the dead yeast cells generated by the wine’s secondary fermentation move towards the neck of the bottle where it is later removed via a process called disgorgement (see video below). Jesus was kind (and patient!) enough to give us all a lesson on how it’s done. He had a way of making it look effortless however upon trying it myself I realized it definitely took years of practice to master.

After Riddling 101 we sat down to a Blanc de Blancs Progression Tasting with Schramsberg winemakers Keith Hock, who specializes in sparkling wine, and  Sean Thompson, who makes Schramsberg’s still wines. During the tasting we had the opportunity to sample a variety of wines in various states of evolution ranging from a 2012 Base Wine to a 1990 Library Wine. The exercise was very enlightening and beautifully demonstrated how these wines evolve and develop over time. At the beginning of the spectrum, the 2012 Base Wine exhibited aromas and flavors of tart green apple and citrus while the 1990 Library Wine was at the complete opposite end of the spectrum featuring notes of hazelnut, pastry dough and honey. It was a valuable lesson in what time can do to sparkling wines and the complexity that can be achieved through proper aging.

This exercise led up to perhaps the most exciting and hand on exercise of the trip: we got to make our own unique bottle of Schramsberg sparkling wine to take home with us. Well, maybe not from the very beginning but were able to disgorge a bottle of Blanc de Blancs and select the dosage level, which determines the final level of sweetness of the wine, to suit our own personal taste. We donned our protective goggles for the disgorgement process but thankfully we had winemaker Keith Hock supervising us so nothing went wrong. I am happy to report my disgorgement went smoothly and when it came time to select the dosage level I decided to attempt to approximate the wine Schramsberg custom produces for the The French Laundry, a low dosage sparkler meant to pair perfectly with oysters and shellfish. After adding the dosage to the wine, I got to cork and label my very own bottle: I’m really looking forward to enjoying the one and only bottle of Cuvée Miskew!

After lunch we explored the Future and Sparkling Wine on our Tables led once again by the fabulous Holly Peterson which expanded on the pairings we had studied the day before. The wines featured this time were the Schramsberg 2009 Brut Rosé and the 2005 Schramsberg Reserve. To pair with our wines were samples of Beef tatake with a variety of sides and sauced including lime wedge, ginger beurre blanc, tomato concasse, yozu koshu spicy sauce, marjoram infused olive oil and Béarnaise sauce. Some surprising favorites of this class included the brut rosé paired with the beef and lime wedge as well as the tomato concasse and basil. My favorite with the 2005 Reserve was the beef and ginger beurre blanc and the Béarnaise sauce. Prior to this exercise I had always personally enjoyed sparkling wine with beef but it was interesting to take the time to figure out which combinations make the best pairings.

Once we had completed this tasting we were faced with a challenge! We were divided into teams and each one had to come up with a 5 course tasting menu to pair with a selection of Schramsberg wines. We had alot of fun in the process and their were some extremely creative pairings and when it came time to reveal the winning team – I’m happy to report we came in second place!

Following the competition, our last official Camp activity, we all said our goodbyes as some Campers headed to the airport and others headed to other vinous destinations. Camp Schramsberg was an amazing experience I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys sparkling wine. 2013 marked the 18th year they have been hosting the Camp and they’ve really developed an excellent program that can accommodate any level of wine knowledge – just come hungry to learn! For those of you who live in South Florida I’m also happy to report I’ll be hosting a dinner with Hugh Davies at 32 East in downtown Delray Beach on Tuesday, November 12th. Come enjoy a selection of Schramsberg’s  sparkling wines as well as their critically acclaimed J. Davies Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a mouth watering menu prepared by the fabulous Chef Nick Morfogen. For more information or to make reservations please click here.