It wasn't until 1965 that the neglected property was revived by the Davies family, who has consistently turned out some of California's best sparkling wines. Jamie Davies; her son, winemaker Hugh Davies; and COO Mike Reynolds, head the operation.
J. Schram, introduced with the 1987 vintage, is the company's tête-de-cuvée and a wine that shows up frequently on the table of the White House State Dining Room.
KORBEL EXTRA DRY NV ($11)
Despite the snob appeal of champagne, there's no rule that says sparkling wine has to cost a fortune. If you're looking for a great value, check out the nonvintage offerings from Korbel, a sparkling-wine specialist in California's Russian River Valley, founded back in 1882. These wines are solidly made and are blended for consistency, a practice which would have earned Dom Pérignon's approval.
The Korbel Extra Dry draws on the under-appreciated Chenin Blanc and French Colombard varieties, and exhibits their melonlike nose. The designation Extra Dry is meant to distinguish it from a bone-dry brut, and this wine actually has a nice trace of underlying sweetness that makes it lovely and approachable, especially for those who may not have a taste for the more austere expressions of sparkling wine.
The nice price point makes this one even more quaffable. It works great as a brunch beverage - perfect with fresh-squeezed orange juice for mimosas.
GLORIA FERRER ROYAL CUVÉE 1993 ($24)
Gloria Ferrer is the United States operation of Spain's large Freixenet wine concern. In addition to several labels in Spain, the company also produces wine in France and Mexico. The Gloria Ferrer facility in the Carneros district of southern Sonoma County, named after the doyenne of this powerful wine family, has added Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to its portfolio, but bubbly is still the heart of the operation. Winemaker Bob Lantosca is making some of the most impressive U.S. sparkling wines on the market. Among them is this Royal Cuvée.