Scharffenberger Brut Rosé Excellence NV, Mendocino County
Cost: $22-24
A fter drinking wine for more than 50 years, I am familiar with most of the wineries who produce wine for the consumer market. Occasionally I come across one I don’t know, such as Scharffenberger Cellars.
I am glad I came across this gem, because the winery produces outstanding sparkling wine and at a great price ($22-24). This is basically high quality Champagne made in Mendocino, California. Of course, it can’t be called Champagne legally unless it is made in that region of France.
But everything about the production of the wine is done the same way they have been doing it for centuries in France. Scharffenberger uses top quality pinot noir and chardonnay grapes grown in a cool climate on their own 120 acres and select surrounding vineyards under long-term contract.
The grapes go through a first fermentation and about 80 percent undergoes malolactic fermentation to soften the blend. The wine then spends two years in the bottle undergoing another fermentation before it is riddled and disgorged.
The wine is 56 percent pinot noir and 44 percent chardonnay. Fruit balance and color are achieved by adding between four and five percent of pinot noir wine to the blend before undergoing bottle fermentation.
The wine is a beautiful pale salmon in the glass with pleasant aromas of raspberry and strawberry. It is a subtle, layered wine with raspberry and crisp apple jumping out. It has a creamy, smooth mouthfeel, full of refreshing bubbles.
We also tried the Scharffenberger Brut ($20), and loved that as much as the brut rosé. It has all the characteristics of a good Champagne, with notes of baked bread enhancing the fruit forward style of the wine. It is 60 percent chardonnay and 40 percent pinot noir.
The Brut Rosé was named the best U.S. sparkling wine at the 2018 Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships.

Winery: Scharffenberger Cellars was founded in 1981 by John Scharffenberger in the heart of California’s Anderson Valley. Located only a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, it benefits from the coastal climate of warm days and cool nights.
Within the protected valley it also enjoys abundant sunshine and deep soils.
The company has gone through many transitions, including a name change when it was formally known as Pacific Echo from 1998 until July 2004. The winery is now owned by Maisons Marques & Domaines USA, which represents some of the most prestigious wine brands in the world.
Among the three dozen or so wineries in their portfolio are Cos d’Estournel, Chateau Pichon-Lalande and Chateau Petrus in Bordeaux, Pio Cesare in Italy, Meerlust Estate in South Africa and Champagne Louis Roederer. The firm was founded in 1987 as the U.S. sales and marketing arm for Roederer and its California winery Roederer Estate. It has grown into a respected marketer of prestigious family-owned producers.
“The Anderson Valley is ideally suited to growing grapes for sparkling wine,” says 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 early 2018, Jeffrey Jindra took over the winemaking operations, bringing extensive experience acquired during his years producing wine both in California and New Zealand. Jindra’s familiarity with the Anderson Valley’s growing conditions is an invaluable asset in this role.
Today he  stays true to the winery’s original philosophy to create stellar quality, delicious sparkling wines that reflect the diversity of the premier Mendocino County viticultural appellation.
Scharffenberger Cellars’ state-of-the-art winery was completed in 1991. The tasting room is open to the public. The tasting room regularly features new artists, so visitors can taste the Scharffenberger sparkling wine while enjoying the latest local artwork. Or you can enjoy a glass of wine and a picnic in the gardens or on the porch.
Michael and Micheala at Easter dinner.

Goes with: We had this delicious sparkler with our Easter ham, and it was a great combination. The Scharffenberger brut rosé tasted great with the ham and with every side dish, including dessert. The fruit-forward, smooth style was particularly good with the ham, which tends to be a bit salty.
I love to cook, but for this Easter family gathering I decided to let the Honey Baked Ham company do it. I picked up everything from the spiral cut ham to mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls and dessert from them and just warmed everything up.
It was the easiest family meal I’ve ever served. I did pick up corn on the cob from the store and Teri made a tossed salad, and she served Wham (fake ham) for the vegetarians.
The Scharffenberger Brut was great with a spicy stir fry.

We also had the Scharffenberger Brut with chicken stir fry, a go-to meal I have been making for about 40 years. It was a great pairing. The smooth, creamy style of sparkling wine was more than a match for the spicy stir fry.
Good sparkling wine goes with just about any food you can come up with, so Scharffenberger brut rosé would pair with appetizers, main courses such as roast beef, steak, chicken, duck or fish, and all kinds of soups and stews. It is particularly good with cheese and with desserts such as brownies, cake or pie.
Gary, Erin and John at Easter dinner.

Tyler the jellyfish came to Easter dinner.

If you have questions about wine you can email Dennis Sodomka at

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