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Vintner Hugh Davies has found sweet spot with brut rosé

Hugh Davies grew up in a house of bubbly.

Davies has many childhood memories, including some mischievous ones. He recalls pulling open the racking valve to a stainless steel tank, only to have a gush of sparkling wine blast out at him. Soon after, he received his first technical-winemaking lecture.

Davies is the vintner behind our wine-of-the-week winner, the Schramsberg, 2009 North Coast Brut Rosé at $43. This is a decadent pick for those who want to splurge.

This striking bubbly has gorgeous aromas of rose petals and brioche, and a lush texture. It has notes of raspberry cream, yeast and spice.

But as for a house style, Davies won't be pigeonholed.

“I don't know if we embrace a California style over a French one,” he said. “We're in California working with fruit grown in some of the coolest growing pockets of the state. Our sparkling wines have vibrant length and drive on the palate that comes from the fruit we grow. Similarly, the fruitful depth of aroma and flavor can be quite profound relative to what might be possible in Champagne.”

Davies said what makes his brut rosé so appealing are the grapes that were harvested from the sweet spots of the vineyards.

“Not unlike the case in other styles of wine, the key is the quality of fruit,” Davies said. “We've identified some truly exceptional vineyards over the course of many years. Pinot noir is key to making delicious brut rosé sparkling wines. Low-yielding blocks in the truly cool pockets of Marin and Sonoma coasts, the Anderson Valley, and the Carneros can all work. You want a brightness of fruit flavor.”

Davies said what makes sparkling rosé a standout is that it “hits a great middle ground.”

“It captures some of the flavorful depth of red wine with the elegance and palate-cleansing length of white wine,” he said. “They can have the delicious berry/cherry depth of great pinot noir, strengthened by the acidity and drive of tart chardonnay.”

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 521-5310 or peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com.

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