I find that at the very moment I’m spouting that I do not know very much about champagne or nor do I care to drink champagne is the very same moment I’m sitting in wine country drinking champagne. Like it or not, champagne has an effervescent charm that goes beyond just serving it for celebrations.
On a late Saturday afternoon, I am sitting at the patio of Domaine Carneros enjoying the sunlight deck overlooking the vineyards and Carneros region. I order a tasting of three champagnes including a Brut Cuvee, Brut Rose, and Vermeil Demi-Sec. The Brut Cuvee is a toast color with flavors of baked pear, melon and vanilla. The Brut Rose has notes of wild strawberries. But my favorite is the Vermeil Demi Sec with its crisp fruity flavor and long creamy vanilla finish. The wines here are proudly labeled on the bottle with the words “Methode Champenoise”.
Methode Champenoise or also called Methode Traditionelle is the traditional way of making champagne and sparkling wine. Basically, champagne is kept in the bottle for a second round of fermentation, which can last anywhere from 6 months up to 6 years. When shopping for champagne, I recommend purchasing a bottle with “Methode Champenoise” listed on the label for higher quality.
So what makes the bubbles in bubbly? The famous bubbles in champagne are a result of carbon dioxide staying in the bottle during fermentation. Champagne is served in flutes to preserve the bubbles. The most commonly used varietals to produce champagne are Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. Blanc de Blanc is generally made from Chardonnay grapes and Blanc de Noir from Pinot Noir. Often times Pinot and Chardonnay are combined along with other varietals so a wine maker can create his own style of champagne.
Domaine Carneros not only offers a great variety of quality champagnes, but they are one of the only few wineries where you can sit and order food to accompany your tastings. It’s a perfect place to spend an afternoon in Napa.
Where to Go:
1240 Duhig Road
Napa, CA 94559
What to Drink:
2008 Domaine Carneros Brut Cuvee, $27
2008 Brut Rose, $36
2007 Vermeil Demi-Sec, $35
Not into bubblies? Try this:
2008 Famous Gate Pinot Noir, $70