We recently took to an overnight trip up to Napa. On our agenda? Make our last stop along the Napa Sparkling Wine Trail – in our case Domaine Carneros.
If you’re not familiar with the “Napa Sparkling Wine Trail“, it’s composed of five sparkling wine houses in the Carneros and Napa Valley areas. They are Domaine Carneros, Domaine Chandon, Gloria Ferrer, Mumm Napa, and Schramsberg Vineyards. Each is enchanting in its own way. What they all have in common, besides sensational sparkling wines, is that they each take pride in serving up praiseworthy still wines. And that’s what I appreciate about going tasting at a sparkling wine house, you can taste sparklers with the option to taste still wines too!
Domaine Carneros was founded in 1987 by Champagne Taittinger of France in partnership with Kobrand Corporation. It is located in the heart of Carneros in Napa Valley, along with Gloria Ferrer. The Carneros terroir is ideally suited to producing Chardonnay,and Pinot Noir, typically the backbone of both Champagne, and California Sparkling wine. Domaine Carneros sources 95% of their fruit from organic estate vineyards (a couple of the sparklers I tasted were vegan), and all of their wines are labeled with the Carneros appellation. Eileen Crane is the winery’s first and only sparkling winemaker.
Domaine Carneros is a beautiful Chateau that was built in 1988. The building was inspired by historic Chateau de la Marquetterie in Champagne France, which is the estate home of the Taittinger family.
My tasting notes follow:
- 2007 Domaine Carneros Brut – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros
Very light straw color with active stream of tiny bubbles and sweet bread dough, citrus and red fruit aromas. On the palate light bodied, dry, and crisp with moderately soft mousse, and tart cherry, apple and citrus peel flavors. Medium finish. Blend of 60% Pinot Noir/40% Chardonnay. 12.95% ABV. Aged 3 years in the bottle on lees. Vegan. (90 pts.)
- 2008 Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé – USA, California, Napa Valley, CarnerosLight salmon color, with a persistent bead of tiny bubbles, and light yeast, red fruit aromas. On the palate medium bodied, balanced with red raspberry, cherry, and a hint of citrus peel flavors. Medium finish. 62% Pinot Noir/38% Chardonnay. 1% dosage. 12.6 ABV. Vegan (90 pts.)
- 2007 Domaine Carneros Ultra Brut – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros
Very light straw color with persistent tiny bead of bubbles and toasty stone fruit aromas. On the palate, very dry, approaching medium-bodied with a creamy mousse and pear, and citrus peel flavors. Medium-long finish. Can’t wait to try this one with raw oysters! (90 pts.)
- 2005 Domaine Carneros Le Reve Blanc de Blancs Late Disgorged Brut – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros
Light straw color with persistent bead of tiny bubbles, and baked pear, tropical fruit aromas. On the palate a creamy mousse, balanced, complex with stone fruit, tropical fruit flavors. Long finish. Aged on lees in the bottle for five and one-half years. Made from 20 different clones. 99% Chardonnay/1% Pinot Blanc. 12% ABV (92 pts.)
- 2008 Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir Avant Garde – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros
Ruby color with cherry, cola, and a touch of cocoa aromas. On the palate, light-bodied, elegant, and smooth with velvety tannins, and tart cherry, earth dark chocolate and spice flavors. Lengthy finish. (88 pts.)
- 2009 Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir Estate – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros
Dark ruby color with earthy, cherry aromas. On the palate, heavier than the Avante-Garde line- approaching medium-bodied, smooth, with velvety tannins, and cherry, earth, and cocoa flavors. Long finish (90 pts.)
- 2007 Domaine Carneros Merlot Avant Garde – USA, California, Napa Valley, Carneros
Medium garnet color with plum, spice and black tea aromas. On the palate, medium bodied with easy plum, earth and spice flavors. Shortish finish (86 pts.)
It was a great tasting with table service that included a nice dried fruit and nut plate. I heartily recommend a visit to Domaine Carneros!
Full Disclosure: When I identified myself as a wine writer, my tasting fee was waived.