In a nutshell: A delightfully aromatic Californian Pinot Noir from a domaine owned by the Champagne house Taittinger.
The lowdown: Bridging the southern gap between Napa and Sonoma, the Carneros area, with its cooler climate is known for its sparkling wines. At Domaine Carneros, which was established in 1987 by Champagne house Taittinger, they also put a small amount of of their Pinot Noir into this pretty good red as well. Made very much in a Burgundian style, but with a result that's probably a bit silkier and riper, it was fermented in small open-topped tanks prior to ageing for eight months in French oak barrels. It's wonderfully aromatic with buckets of cherry and raspberry fruit on the nose, whilst the silky smooth palate is full of bright, spiced fresh fruit.
When to drink: Best served cellar cool, it's a brilliantly versatile wine which pairs well with grilled salmon, chicken, veal or pork and roast lamb in particular.
Sitting at the southern end of the Napa Valley Domaine Carneros gives away its French roots with its impressive Château style winery that sits conspicuously looming over the Sonoma highway. The estate was founded in 1987 by the family behind Champagne Taittinger with a parcel of vines in the Napa Valley's best sparkling wine area with the intention of making Californian wines to emulate their superlative Grande Marque Champagnes. The founding winemaker, Eileen Crane, who oversaw the growth of the estate retired in the summer of 2020 after 33 years and she can rightly be credited with establishing Domaine Carneros among the top echelons of American Sparkling wine producers. Zak Miller who has been at the domaine since 2008 and learnt much of his art from Eileen is now the sparkling winemaker.
Their vineyards now extend to over 150 hectares all close to the château with about two thirds planted with Pinot Noir and the remainder with Chardonnay. In addition to an impressive array of sparkling wines they also produce a number of excellent quality still reds made their Pinot Noir vineyards.