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  • Susan Welsh

My first champagne. . .


It's July, 1981 and we're celebrating at a restaurant called The Broadmoor, where they serve delicious French Silk Pie and I'm a little in love with the handsome and affable owner John. It's my dad's 40th birthday party and Schramsberg Cremant is being served--the same sparkling wine poured for toasts at the White House Dinners during the Reagan presidency. The story of the wine making odyssey that begins with Jacob Schram is a true rags-to-riches one, and the early days of the vineyard are documented by the great novelist Robert Louis Stevenson in a book called The Silverado Squatters.

Technically this is NOT my first sparkling wine, so much as it's one of the first memorable ones. I developed a thirst for bubbly very early on, and a taste for high quality soon after. Since my father is in the wine business there will be many sips of luxury brand sparkling wines and champagnes to follow: Salon, Louis Roederer, and Cristal, to name a few-- but it will always be the Schramsberg that remains in my Champagne soul.

Decades later, at an age that now surpasses the youth of my father's 40th, I'm fond of others, too--namely Billecart-Salmon, and I'm always open to new sips, new bubbles, new ideas. There's a lovely film called A Year in Champagne that tells the story of the trials and tribulations that often accompany the making of such refined classics. The film follows a year in the life of several renowned Champagne houses, as we come to understand Champagne as a metaphor for life, really--to suffer and endure hardships for the greater glory. Or, as the French say so poetically "'il faut souffrir pour etre belle', one must suffer to be beautiful."


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