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
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.