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December 25, 2015 Wine Pick of the Week

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Domaine Carneros Brut Rose withshadow Picmonkey2012 Brut Rosé


Domaine Carneros

By Taittinger


Alcohol: 12.3%

Suggested Retail: $37


“Good sparkling wine is appropriate for celebrating the new year. It’s also appropriate for just celebrating life in general and is a treat too frequently thought of as only for special occasions.

Sparkling wine is the generally accepted term that encompasses all wines containing bubbles, from pricey top-of-the-line imports through the cheap stuff served at all-you-can-eat Sunday brunches. Most California producers have agreed that the word Champagne refers to products that come from a particular part of France and should no longer be appropriated by wineries outside that region. Wonderful as wines from Champagne are, they’re no longer necessarily superior to their California counterparts.

“However, many of the best California sparkling wine producers have strong French connections. Such is the case with Domaine Carneros, which expresses the personality of the Reims firm Champagne Taittinger with a California accent.

CWP page D Carneros Gala Picmonkey Claude Taittinger (left rear) chats with guests as your reviewer (right) refreshes his glass.“Located on a knoll in the Carneros region about halfway between the cities of Napa and Sonoma, Domaine Carneros is a beautiful facility, patterned after the 18th Century château that is the French home to Champagne Taittinger. Enjoying a glass of wine and a little pâtè on their terrace is one of the good weather pleasures of a visit to wine country that shouldn’t be missed.

In September of 1990 your reviewer attended a party hosted by Claude Taittinger celebrating the completion of the California château. The wine business throws some pretty good shindigs, but this evening was spectacular. Founding winemaker (and now CEO) Eileen Crane and many of her staff were dressed in beautiful gowns appropriate for a grand soirée a couple of centuries earlier. There was a great band, a fireworks display and more grilled quail than I’d ever seen. And, of course, all that wine. Monsieur Taittinger told of visiting California as a young man after the conclusion of World War II. He and a pal camped out somewhere in what was to become the Carneros growing region, said our host. He saw no vineyards nearby, but said to himself that it would be wonderful if he could have a winery in the area someday.

“The 2012 Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé is composed of 71% Pinot Noir, 29% Chardonnay. The aroma is floral and substantial. We thought it reminiscent of strawberries and raspberries. There is more berry in the taste, along with Bing cherries and maybe a bit of Santa Rosa plum. There was even a slight sprinkling of spice in the background. This wine provides a mouthful of sophisticated creaminess and a long finish.”

Food Affinity:   “The fact that the Domaine Careros Brut Rosé might be perfect with poached salmon doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be a great complement to other dishes. There’s enough personality here to support pouring it with fuller-flavored poultry and even veal.”

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