On my recent trip to Napa Valley I made a point of visiting quite a few producers whose wine I was somewhat familiar with but who I had never stopped in to see. One of those was Domaine Chandon. Sparkling Wine has an air of fun and celebration automatically surrounding it that adds to the enjoyment. A friend and I arrived at Domaine Chandon and proceeded to take the tour which went through much of their production facility. For those who have toured wineries but not sparkling wine houses it’s definitely something you should do. Domaine Chandon does a nice job of taking consumers through the process by walking through and having visuals along the way to point to. The tour guide was informative and hit the right level for a consumer tour. He was loaded with knowledge about Domaine Chandon specifically and the sparkling wine making process in general. Based on the interest of our group of about 8 people and the questions asked he tailored the information along the way. The facility is an attractive one and while it’s right off of Highway 29 in Yountville it’s hidden from the road.
After touring we sat down in a semi-private area with a handful of tables and tasted through the current portfolio. Here are my thoughts on several of the wines I found the most desirable.
The Domaine Chandon Brut Classic is the entry level wine in the portfolio. This offering blends together Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. It was produced in the traditional method and secondary fermentation took place in bottle. This widely available release has a suggested retail price of $22. Lemon zest and toasted hazelnut aromas fill the nose of this wine. Crisp apple flavors and copious spice notes inform the pleasing palate. Bits of creaminess an yeast emerge on the finish which has good length.
The Domaine Chandon Rosé achieves it’s lovely color with the addition of a small amount of still Pinot Noir at tirage. That said the bulk of this offering is composed of Chardonnay. It sits on the yeast for a minimum of 12 months. This widely available wine has a suggested retail price of $22. The beautiful dark salmon hue of this wine is immediately striking. Cherry and strawberry aromas fill the nose along with a bit of vanilla bean. Cherries continue on the palate along with wisps of cinnamon and white pepper. Sour red fruits and bits of brioche mark the finish which is clean, crisp and begs you to take another sip.
The Domaine Chandon Etoile Brut is a blend of Chardonnay (55%), Pinot Noir (25%), and Pinot Meunier (20%) from both Napa and Sonoma. This wine is the Chandon selection that aims to make the best Sparkling Wine possible without feeling compelled to traditional methodology or other restrictions. It ages sur lees for a minimum of 5 years. This wine has a suggested retail price of $40. The depth of palate, complexity and noteworthy persistence of the finish are what strike me most about this wine. There are orchard fruit, spice and toasted note characteristics galore here. This is an incredibly enjoyable Sparkling wine that is at times classic in how dry it is as well as unique is some others.
Domaine Chandon is located on a beautiful property in the heart of NapaValley. Their tour and tasting option is educational, well paced and consumer friendly. They make some very tasty sparkling wines and a handful of well considered still offerings to boot. This is a stop to keep in mind for your next trip to Napa.