Wine Talk

Snooth User: John Andrews

Domaine Carneros Visit ...

Posted by John Andrews, Jan 12, 2010.

Let’s get something straight, I like bubbles. Yes, I like bubbles in my wine. Well, that is I like Champagne and Sparkling Wines. I like bubbly wine from everywhere. I even like sparkling shiraz. However, not all sparkling wines are made equal. Some sparkling wines are very, very good and some are very bad. However, when they are good they have a complexity that rivals some of the great wines of the world.

I am envious of the people of Europe. They have access to much more Champagne than I do and, it seems, they are getting them at much better prices than I can. However, that doesn’t disappointment as much anymore. When I lived in Canada it was a big problem as the prices of Champagne put them out of my reach. But now living in California, I have access to a number of local producers. Most of these producers have ties to traditional sparkling wine producers in Europe. There is Mumm Napa who is tied to GH Mumm of France. There is Domaine Chandon which is connected to Moet & Chandon of France. There is Roederer Estate which is owned by Louis Roederer. There is also Gloria Ferrer which is owned by Frexient of Spain. There are a few true California producers like J Vineyards and Schramsberg but for me, the producer in California that has the most appeal is Domaine Carneros.

Domaine Carneros is connected to Tattinger in France. Domaine Carneros is modeled after its French owner, even down to the production facility / tasting room. This facility is made as a replica of the Tattinger French Chateau. The reason why Domaine Carneros appeals to me is their wines are very consistent and they have sparkling wines in every category of taste and most are reasonably priced. I always have a great experience visiting there and recently, I had the opportunity to take some of my friends there. For them, it was their first time being there and they loved it.

There is a multiple tasting options when you visit Domaine Carneros. There is also a tour offered but I have never taken it. The tasting format is done in an elegant room and done while seated. All wines are provided at the same time to do a nice comparison. The sparkling flight does include their top bottling La Reve. The flights range in price from $15 to $25. You can light food options for pairing as well and wines are available by the glass as well.

My tasting notes are below:

• 2005 Vintage Brut $26 (3.5/5) - Rich gold sparkling wine with baking spice in the nose and green apple. Nice crisp flavors with good acid and sharp green apple flavors.
http://www.snooth.com/wine/domaine-...

• NV Rose $36 (3.5/5) - Salmon in color with noses of strawberry and rose petals. Lovely sparkling rose. First in the taste is strawberry and then white fruits. Lots of different things going on. Very nice.
http://www.snooth.com/wine/domaine-...

• NV Blanc de Noir $33 (4/5) - It has been a while since Domaine Carneros has done a Blanc de Noir. This one is very nice. Light gold in color with baking spice on the nose and with a mineral flavour with pear flavours.
http://www.snooth.com/wine/domaine-...

• 2001 Late Disgorged $22 (4/5) - Rich gold in color with nice aged sparkling wine characteristics. Yeast and fresh bread in the aromas. Flavors had a nice honey character with a creaminess and good acid and nice long finish.
http://www.snooth.com/wine/domaine-...

• 2003 La Reve $85 (4.5/5) - Light gold in color and elegant. For me this is as good as any vintage Champagne. Rich and complex with layers of flavor and long, long finish.
http://www.snooth.com/wine/domaine-...

While the primary focus of Domaine Carneros is to produce sparkling wine that is not all they produce. They do produce some very good still wines as well. While I did not get to taste them here is a sample list of what the also produce:

• 2007 Avant-Garde Pinot Noir $24
• 2007 Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir $35
• 2007 The Famous Gate Pinot Noir $68
• 2006 Avant-Garde Merlot $30
• 2006 Avant-Garde Chardonnay $30

While looking at the Domaine Carneros website for this report I found out that they are producing (for the first time) a white pinot noir (http://www.domainecarneros.com/2008...). For me, this elevates my opinion of Domaine Carneros as a winery that provides solid value offerings but is willing to experiment to see if they can create a new hit.

For me there is no better way to start a day in wine country than with a little sparkling wine. When it is at all possible, I do this. And if I get to start at Domaine Carneros then it is even better. If you’re heading up to Napa for a day of wine tasting then you should start at Domaine Carneros. They are at the south end of Napa County, have a beautiful location and great sparkling wine. I can’t think of a better way to start the day.

Contact Info:

Domaine Carneros (http://www.domainecarneros.com)
1240 Duhig Road,
Napa California 94559
P: 800.716 BRUT(2788)
E: info@DomaineCarneros.com

Replies

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 12, 2010.

Once again a good report on a winery visit, including tasting notes, John. I like Domaine Carneros, too. Me thinks you run down California too much when compared to Europe. Your sparkling wine options are very good there, whether in terms of price or quality. That's why I started the thread
http://www.snooth.com/talk/topic/go...

Would be interesting to do some blind tastings of Domaine Carneros, others from California and Oregon I mention in that thread, and some comparable houses from France...

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 12, 2010.

Meant to ask if you've ever had any of their still wines, John. Am particularly curious how they do their 'avante-garde' merlots...

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 12, 2010.

John, was also curious why the 2001 late disgorged is cheaper than the 2005 vintage brut. Any ideas?

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Reply by John Andrews, Jan 12, 2010.

@dmcker ... Let's just say for me it is a humility thing. I love California bubbly but it doesn't have the history that Champagne has. While I think the wines are great I'd love to see how they age and evolve. However, for the hear and now, they are a great price-quality.

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Reply by John Andrews, Jan 12, 2010.

Oh yeah, a blind tasting of various sparkling wines is a great idea. I need to get that set up with some friends.

Also, I have tried some of their still wines. Mostly the Pinots. They go from average (2.5) to very good (3.5). However, they can lack some flavor but have great acidity and freshness.

Lastly, the Late Disgorged is in the $30 range. I'm not exactly sure because I forgot to write it down and it is not on the website. It is a wine club only wine and is hidden from non-wine club members on the website. They have a Demi-Sec and Sec sparkling I would like to try but haven't had a chance.

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 12, 2010.

I was reacting to your quote of $22 for the LD. If that price was correct it seems to be the value buy of the list...

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Reply by John Andrews, Jan 12, 2010.

I would agree with you ... but I did speak with someone at Domaine Carneros about the white pinot and asked for some pricing.

LD was $32 which is still pretty good in my opinion
Demi-Sec is $36

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 12, 2010.

That would seem to make more marketing sense than the earlier $22 figure, though all-in-all I'd be tempted first to try outside vendors to see if any of those offerings could be bought for a discount... ;-)

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Reply by John Andrews, Jan 12, 2010.

You can definitely find the 05 Brut for cheaper ... usually around $19. I don't think I've seen the LD anywhere. I have seen La Reve in some stores and the Brut Rose but never the LD.

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Reply by napagirl68, Jan 13, 2010.

Ooooh I love the La Reve!!!!!! I visited Domaine Carneros on my way back from a stay up in Jenner on the Russian River (my fav Chard appellation). I did truly like the La Reve. But I am also partial to French Champagnes myself as well. However, I did taste another California one up at Roederer that I liked.. the L’Ermitage.

Thank You, HondaJohn, for that lovely article and tasting notes!!!!!!

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Reply by John Andrews, Jan 13, 2010.

@Napagirl ... thanks for the respect ... L'Ermitage is wonderful and I think, a hidden gem, wish they were closer. Love Roederer Estate ... so need to get out there and stock up!


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