I always think that bubbles are a great choice for celebrating Valentine’s Day. And, given that many of us will be blowing our budgets with high-priced V-Day dinners, I wouldn’t mind not breaking the bank on wine. So here’s a really good budget bubbly that tastes like a million bucks: Scharffenberger Brut Excellence NV. This sensational sparkler clocks in at a mere $23 here in Utah.
Since 1981, Scharffenberger has been making sparkling wines with grapes sourced from their own 120 acres of vineyards in California’s Anderson Valley, as well as select vineyards in Mendocino County. “The Anderson Valley is ideally suited to growing grapes for sparkling wine,” said former winemaker Tex Sawyer. “It is the coolest growing region in California, so our grapes are allowed extra time on the vine and become fully mature before harvest.” In 2018, Jeffrey Jindra took over the winemaking operations that Tex Sawyer ran from 1989 to 2017.
Scharffenberger Brut Excellence is a Méthode Traditionelle sparkling wine, meaning that it’s made incorporating the methods of Champagne making in France, where the wines are individually bottle-fermented before being riddled and disgorged.
It’s a 60/40 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, made with a full malolactic style of fermentation that contributes body, creaminess and vanilla notes to this elegant sparkling wine. The aromas remind me of walking into a French pâtisserie, with slightly sweet and honeyed brioche and baked bread notes. On the palate the wine is crisp and dry with subtle green apple flavors and yeasty richness. It’s a helluva bang-for-the-buck-bubbly for Valentine’s Day, or any other occasion.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.
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