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Sunday, March 20, 2011

For the Love of Pinot: Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir 2008

Wow I had a great time at the Family Winemakers of California tasting and discovered some really good juice that you shouldn't pass up. But now it's time to hop back into the wine-wagon once more and take a spin up the California coast to a wonderful place called the Napa Valley. One of the premier spots in all the world for producing world-class wines.

I was thinking it's high-time to get a little Carneros into my life and this is the perfect way to do that. So this time our road trip will take us to a wonderful placed called Domaine Carneros, which sits between Duhig Road and the Carneros Highway on Napa Valley's south-western border, closer to Sonoma and on the out-skirts of Napa's familiar highway twenty nine corridor.

In a word this winery is,"winetastic" a made-up word perhaps, none-the-less Domaine Carneros is as picturesque as any winery could ever hope to be, the model is based on a traditional 18th Century French chateau, you could almost see Josephine and Napolean waving to you as you drive up vineyard lined road. This winery iconically says first-class all the way. A visit to Domaine Carneros and their partner Taittinger represents the iconic French Chateau experience I believe we all think of when we here the word winery, simulating what a trip to Bordeaux or Champagne may be like.

Domaine Carneros is better known for its Sparkling Wine program, where they have three traditional styles of sparkling wine, each wine is made in the traditional method often referred to as the "méthode champenoise". But seeing the potential for making a wonderful expression of red burgundy, they embarked on adding Pinot Noir to their line of sparkling wines in 1992. If you're thinking about a visit; they welcome guests in a variety of ways, please check their web page for all the details.

They have three Pinot Noirs in their line-up, but the one I'm reviewing today [featured in the picture above] is the 2008 Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir, Carneros, which was sent as a sample for the review process.

Time to take a closer look at this delish Carneros Pinot Noir via a tasting note. This wine will take a little coaxing to come out of its shell, as it's a bit reticent at first blush. But give it a bit of time in the decanter for at least an hour or so and that should do the trick nicely. In the glass you'll find a beautiful garnet colored core. After stuffing my fat half Irish nose into the glass, you get some Burgundian funk, kind of a forest floor aroma mixed together with cherries, rhubarbs and a splash of cola.  After the splash down, a nice vein of acidity running through this great entry level Pinot Noir, dry, silky, and light bodied, laying on a pillow of black berries, cola and ripe raspberries all wrapped around the plush finish. It's drinking pretty nicely right now, but by next year it will be even better.

Price and Where to Buy: Okay  folks you can do this a couple of ways, you could buy it in their tasting room or from their online store for $35 bones or you could gallop down to your local high-end Costco, where you can get this wonderful juice for somewhere just south of $25 and that my friends is freaking steal with serious QPR appeal. I gave this wine a score of 90 points, a really well made wine for everyday quaffing.

The other wine [sample] sent for the review process was their sparkling Brut Rosé also known as the Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé Cuvée de la Pompadour, quite a mouthful. A wonderfully toasty, salmon colored sparkling wine that would lighten up anyones Valentines day activities. A great bottle of wine to have on hand for any occasion, just stash one away in the pantry or even better have it chilling out in the refrigerator. Remember as Charles Dickens once said, "Champagne is one of the elegant extras in life."

Organic: This sparkling wine is made from certified-organic grapes. And on the vegan front, it may be a relief to know that their bubbly is a animal-free product. Some wines are "fined," or clarified, with animal products like egg white and sometimes isinglass the dried swim bladders of fish. While this is a common industry practice, Domaine Carneros believes it's important for folks to know that they only use clay-based vegan product for clarifying their bubbly.

Swirly, Sniff and Slurp: Okay as I mentioned earlier in the glass you'll find a Salmon, leaning toward cooper type color. It's a blend of 58% Pinot Noir, 42% Chardonnay filled with a yeasty, yet tangy flavors. Nicely complex flavors of vanilla cream and raspberry brioche, wonderful creamy mouth feel. The finish fell off a little at the end, but still has that champagne like elegance, a true Brut in every sense of the word. I gave this wine a score of 89 points.

Other Voices: Okay folks, this the place I allow others to chime in with their opinion. The folks over at the WE really liked this bubbly, much more than I did and had this to say. "Delicious. This is a full-bodied blush bubbly with instant appeal, from the coppery color to the long, spicy finish. Shows lush flavors of creamy raspberries and red cherries, brioche, vanilla and cinnamon spice, with a nutty sweetness. Elegant and complex. Drink now." Wine Enthusiast, 93 Points - June, 2009

Price and Where to Buy: You could purchase this wine through their website or the tasting room for $35 each or get it at your local Costco for somewhat south of the $30 and and other online sources for well under $25.

Well folks that was a great visit and I hope you will reach out and give some of their wines a swirl. If you find yourself in the area, this is a great place to stop for completing your own wine country experience. On our next trip, we'll hop back in the wine-wagon and head down south to Argentina, where I've got a wonderful Malbec waiting for a review. Until next time, sip long and prosper, cheers!
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