Domaine Carneros

March 17th, 2014 by Erin Gennow


Domaine Carneros

The other weekend we had the wonderful opportunity of taking a tour and tasting at Domaine Carneros.  This gorgeous French style chateau, completed in 1989, is just off Highway 12/121, with amazing rolling hill vineyard views.  Our particular March visit was raining, but just as beautiful, with verdant green grasses among the dormant vines.

Established in 1987 by Champagne Taittinger, the famous French Champagne house, Domaine Carneros produces three traditional styles of sparkling wines using the classic méthode champenoise.  Since the property is located in the southern part of Napa County, just north of San Pablo Bay, the estate is able to grow all of their own Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, both essential varietals for classic Champagne style sparkling wines.

Our tour guide was wonderful and knowledgeable, answering any questions that arose.  As you sip and taste, you move through the center of the facility, in order to view the equipment and production line.  Along the way we tasted 5 different wines, paired with food, while learning the process of growing, harvesting and making sparkling wine.

We tasted:

2009 Brut Cuvée – This Brut Cuvee is vintage dated, because all grapes come from the same year.  As a brut cuvee it is a combination of the famous champagne grape varietals Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  This sparkling wine is aged for at least 3 years before release, and since labeled a Brut, has a minimal amount of sugar, making it relatively dry.

2006 Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs – This delicate, creamy sparkling wine has tiny bubbles and is made only with white grapes, almost always 100% Chardonnay.  It’s aged 6 years before release.

Brut Rosé – A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, using a greater percentage of Pinot Noir this pale pink sparkling wine is fruity, floral and a bit sweeter than the Brut Cuvee or Blanc de Blancs.  Since it is a Brut, it will still be on the drier side.

2011 Estate Pinot Noir – One of three Pinot Noirs made at Domaine Carneros, the Estate Pinot Noir smells of dark cherries, almonds and warm baking spices.

2009 Verméil Demi-Sec – This lightly sweet sparkling wine has flavors of orange and vanilla, which pairs beautifully with fruity or cream based desserts.

I highly recommend you visit Domaine Carneros when you are in the Napa Valley.  Call ahead, since they get quite busy.  The parking lot was over half full when we arrived at 10:30am.  The tour is a great introduction to sparkling wine made in the Champagne method.  Or sit in the tasting salon or on the terrace.  With amazing wines, delicious food and a beautiful location it’s the perfect place to start a day in Napa’s wine country.

Domaine Carneros

1240 Duhig Road

Napa, California 94559


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