- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Schramsberg, Blanc de Blancs, North Coast, 2005, $35

Here is an appropriately patriotic wine to pour Tuesday. The 1969 vintage of Schramsberg´s Blanc de Blancs (just the fourth made) was lifted famously in toast by President Nixon and Premier Zhou Enlai in Beijing in 1972, an act symbolizing the beginning of the end of a truly rancorous political divide.

Since then, subsequent vintages have been served at state functions by every presidential administration. No matter whether you´re celebrating victory or still looking to drown sorrows, the 2005 is a fitting choice to toast new beginnings.

The first champagne-styled wine made with chardonnay grapes to be produced commercially in the United States, Schramsberg´s Blanc de Blancs always has been fashioned in a dry or brut style.

Though the winery is in the Napa Valley, the grapes today are sourced from vineyards in cool growing regions throughout California´s North Coast. As a result, the wine tastes crisp and refreshing, without the cloying sweetness that mars some other California bubbly.

An excellent choice as an aperitif, this wine also complements fresh shellfish and other light fare, particularly Asian-inspired dishes. Because past vintages have shown the ability to age well, becoming toastier and less fruit-driven with a few years in the cellar, you even can stash a couple of bottles away in anticipation of Inauguration 2012.

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