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Scharffenberger Brut Excellence is a fruit-forward sparkling cuvée of two-thirds Pinot Noir and one-third Chardonnay. The grapes come primarily from the 120-acre estate vineyard in Anderson Valley, but some are sourced from other parts of Mendocino County.
The wine always undergoes 100% malolactic fermentation to create rich body and with fresh, but round, palate. A traditional method sparkling wine, the still wine is bottled with fresh yeast and sweet juice to start a second fermentation which creates the bubbles. When that’s complete, the wine ages in bottle on the lees for about two years, gaining complexity and fully capturing the CO2. The wine is ready to drink upon release, but will gain complexity and richness with additional months in bottle.
Scharffenberger Cellars is a sparkling wine specialist in Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley AVA. Cold ocean breezes and fog that lingers well into the morning results in crisp, high acid grapes, making Anderson Valley one of the state’s best regions for sparkling wine.
John Scharffenberger founded the winery in 1981, less than a decade after the first modern winery was established in the area. A dozen years later, Scharffenberger sold the winery and founded the eponymous chocolate company which he later sold to Hershey. The winery changed hands, and names, a couple of times itself, but is now back to the original name and owned by Maisons Marques & Domaines.
Maisons Marques & Domaines is the the U.S. sales and marketing arm for Champagne Louis Roederer. The company owns many wineries around the world, including Roederer Estate, another sparkling wine producer in Anderson Valley. The winemaker for Scharffenberger Cellars is Tex Sawyer, who has held that position since 1989.
The winery makes two sparkling wines, Scharffenberger Brut Excellence and Scharffenberger Brut Rosé Excellence.