T.G.I.F. Bubbly; 2003 Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Brut

This week’s sparkler is produced by Roederer Estate, owned by Louis Roederer Champagne, which is renowned for producing the luxury Champagne Cristal. Besides various holdings in France, the Roederer group also includes Scharffenberger Cellars, another sparkling wine house in Anderson Valley.

The California operation is located in Anderson Valley, north of the Napa Valley.  While Anderson Valley may not have the cachet of Napa, or Sonoma, I’ve found the tasting rooms to be more intimate, the locals are more friendly.  It’s picturesque and beautiful wine region.

The Anderson Valley is cooled by the nearby Pacific Ocean, and the seemingly omnipresent bank of fog.  The region is home to a wealth of cool climate grapes especially Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Alsatian varieties like Riesling,Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Gris. Since Pinot Noir,and Chardonnay thrive there, the region produces some impressive sparkling wines.

My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting Anderson Valley last week. We dropped in at Roederer Estate.  What a beautiful property.  Ironically, our last visit was during winter a few years ago.  We tasted some great wine, and told ourselves we’ve got to get back to the areas during another season! We’ve got our eye on the 16th Annual Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival, or maybe during Harvest.

2003 Roederer Estate  L'Ermitage Brut

2003 Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Brut

My tasting notes follow:

Pale straw yellow color with bread crust, baked apple, and hazelnut aromas. Persistent bed of tiny bubbles. On the palate, it shows a delicate mousse with baked apple , hazelnut, and hints of burnt sugar and mineral flavors. Long finish. 12.1% alcohol – 92pts

Rating: Highly Recommended – Fantastic bottle of California bubbly.  This is world-class bottle of bubbly I would love to see blind tasted against Champagne!  And it’s a relative value too when compared to top of the line offerings from a few of it’s Napa, and Sonoma competitors. 

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). I think this one works well as work both as an aperitif (Kettle-style potato chips, and seasoned popcorn are coming to mind), or main courses like sushi, sashimi, shellfish, lobster mac and cheese, or roast chicken. Even pair with a light dessert like shortbread cookies, or fresh fruit!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 12.1% alcohol.
  • Closure: Cork
  • AVA: > CaliforniaNorth Coast> Anderson Valley
  • Varietal(s): 52% Chardonnay, 48% Pinot Noir, 4% aged reserve wine (vintage ’99)”
  • Cooperage: Aged 5.5 years in French oak cask + at least 6 month in bottle
  • Dosage: Brut
  • Retail: $47
  • Cases produced: 5,251
  • Drink: Now – 2015
  • >>Find this wine<<

Wine purchased for review

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T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…NV Scharffenberger Brut Excellence

This week’s sparkler is from Scharffenberger Cellars.  I don’t know about you, but I was more familiar with the Scharffenberger name through Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, than Scharffenberger Cellars.   John Scharffenberger founded both.  Scharffenberger Cellars was established in 1981 in Anderson Valley.  It’s been through a few transitions, including being called Pacific Echo from 1998 through July 2004. The name has been restored back to Scharffenberger Cellars under the management of Maisons Marques & Domaines, the U.S. sales and marketing arm for Champagne Louis Roederer and its California winery, Roederer Estate (which also happens to be located in Anderson Valley. They’re about 5 miles apart).  Scharffenberger later, along with Robert Steinberg, established Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker in 1996.

As a mostly irrelevant aside…Scharffen Berger chocolates is one of my all time favorite chocolate makers (I’m giving up chocolate for Lent this year – but I have a Scharffen Berger Limited Edition Bên Tre Dark Chocolate Bar with my name on it waiting for me.  As I write this I’m seriously jonesing for it as I literally count down the hours until Easter – um…but I digress 😉  Yum…er Um…yes this is a wine blog.  On the bubbly!

NV Scharffenberger Brut Excellence

NV Scharffenberger Brut Excellence

Where it’s from: USA>CaliforniaNorth Coast>Mendocino County

The grape(s) Chardonnay (67%), and Pinot Noir (33%)

Production method: Méthode Traditionelle; Aged about 2 years on lees

Alcohol: 12%

Retail: $19; I purchased for $16 at the Wine Mine 

My tasting notes follow:

Pale yellow-bold color with tiny bead of bubbles that dissipated somewhat quickly, and bread dough, faint apple aromas. On the palate it’s light-medium bodied, with a moderately creamy mousse, and sweet fruity sweet apple, and lemon-lime flavors. Short finish. 

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). This one would make an excellent aperitif, but would also be a good match with lighter foods like seafood, or  pasta or risotto dishes, especially those creamy sauces rather than tomato sauce.

This is a very good bubbly, and at $16 is a good value (and may be found for less).  It’s comparable to other entry-level sparklers from Gloria Ferrer, Mumm, and Chandon. It’s a bit more challenging to find, but worth seeking out. I’d buy again, especially if couldn’t find one of the aforementioned sparklers on sale. (Click here to find this wine)