The Scharffenberger name might be more familiar with chocolate lovers than wine lovers, but at one time starting in the 1980s, it was one of California's premium sparkling wine brands. Winemaker, John Scharffenberger, founded Scharffenberger Cellars in 1981 and produced sparkling wine under the Methode Champenoise (now called, Methode Traditionelle to indicate secondary fermentation in the bottle the way Champagne is produced) from his Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County. He sold the business in 1995 and founded Scharffenberger Chocolate in 1997. The winery continued to operate eventually under the Pacific Echo brand from 1998 to 2004. Today, the original name of Scharffenberger has returned and winemaker, Tex Sawyer, who has been making the wines there since 1989, is still crafting great quality sparkling wine. This Brut Excellence is 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir and went through 100% malolactic fermentation which gives the wine its rounded and creamy texture. It was aged for two years on its lees before disgorgement with a very low dosage making it a very dry, crisp sparkler. The nose shows yeasty, toasty brioche aromas and scents of red apple skin. The palate is lively with more juicy apple and slightly bruised pear flavors and the wine finishes with bright acidity and subtle nutty notes of hazelnut and almond. We are thrilled to add this fine wine to our selection of California sparklers, and hopefully help folks think of Scharffenberger as more than a chocolate bar!