Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Scharffenberger: It's back, though it never left

John Scharffenberger started his eponymous winery in 1981, when premium American bubbly was still a niche product.

He sold it and moved on to making chocolate, but he sold that too.

These days John raises Iberian pigs in Mendocino County to make high-quality ham.

The distributors of Roederer wines have kept the Scharffenberger name in bubbles, though, and it's a product worthy of the man, even if he's not still involved.

Scharffenberger Mendocino County Brut NV ($19)
Like the Artist Known Again as Prince, Scharffenberger spent several years under another name -- Pacific Echo -- before having its brand restored. Winemaker Tex Sawyer never left and never stopped making great value bubblies. This wine undergoes 100 percent malolactic fermentation, but I would never have guessed that from the crisp, clean Meyer lemon and green apple flavors. It's a blend of about 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay, aged two years on the lees -- a lot of value for under $20. 90

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