Holiday Wine Tasting with Hugh Davies
This is Part 2 of an interview with Hugh Davies of Schramsberg Vineyards and Davies Vineyards. This week, we taste a line-up of wines: two sparklers and one Davies Cabernet blends from this historic property. Schramsberg Vineyards date back to the 19th century, when German immigrant Jacob Schram first made his home and started his winery on Diamond Mountain. In 1965, a century later, Jack and Jamie Davies restored the estate and set out to make world-class California sparkling wines. Hugh carries on his family tradition and in a nod to the original founder, sharing their vintage namesake wine with us today. Visit the property and tour the caves on your next visit to Napa Valley.
The wines we tasted included:
2007 J Schram Sparkling Wine- This is a much smaller production blend, a special reserve selection of sorts, aged for a longer period than the other wines. Named after their original founder, J Schram is produced from the best of the chardonnay lots in the particular vintage. It’s aged on the lees for seven plus years followed by riddling, discouragement and dosage, classic methode champanoise, then its ready to drink.
The wine is vibrant, bright and has incredible length on the finish. The fruit is nicely structured, allowing it to age delicately for nine years. Golden in color, it has a vibrant acidity and would be a fine pair with scallops, shellfish or a grilled or poaches piece of halibut. The Davie’s first vintage of this Blanc de Blanc wine was 1987 when Hugh was studying in Lima, Peru during his undergraduate studies, he recalls.
2013 Schramsberg Brut Rose Sparkling Wine, predominantly Pinot Noir, coming from pockets in Sonoma County, Anderson Valley, Mendocino and cooler pockets of Marin County, where the climate is significantly cooler. They have leased a 30 acre vineyard for the past 18 years, where some of this fruit comes from as well. This wine has more vibrant red berry characteristics which would have been difficult to get from grapes up in Napa. 61% Pinot Noir, contributing the bright fruit flavors and the remainder, Chardonnay, giving the backbone of the wine. The gorgeous blush color comes from skin contact during fermentation with a small percentage of the base wine. This is a great wine with fish, crudo with avocado and citrus or other light dishes.
2013 Davies Cabernet Sauvignon: There were 2500 cases made at the newer St. Helena winery property. The Schramsberg vineyard property was replanting in the early 1990’s, upon the realization that the Diamond Mountain area was perfect for the Bordeaux varietals. The grapes for this wine comes from that propery. The Malbec added in small percentages adds to the bright vibrant berry flavor, as opposed to the cherry and herbal characters of the Cabernet. The Petite Verdot adds a bit of rounding to the blend. 2013 was the second year of the drying conditions in the area and a fine vintage. Davies feels the wine is young, ready to enjoy yet it has a long life ahead of it for those who have the patience. The backbone, spine and texture indicates that it will age for some time.
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