AWG Correspondent

Elizabeth Smith

Domaine Carneros Photos

Domaine Carneros Review

Regions: Napa Valley AVA, Los Carneros AVA, California

Reviewed: December 19, 2015 by Elizabeth Smith
Published: January 7, 2016

My first visit to Domaine Carneros was Labor Day Weekend 2012 during a visit to Napa. I joined a friend there for a tasting on the patio and was mesmerized by the experience. In the back of my head, I had an idea. If I were to ever move to Napa, this would be the first wine club I would join. As fate would have it, I moved here in January 2014 and four months later, I went to Domaine Carneros and enrolled in their Chateau Society wine club.

Domaine Carneros is the American sparkling wine house of France’s Champagne house, Taittinger. It is located in southern Napa Valley in the Carneros AVA near the Sonoma County line, where chardonnay and pinot noir grapes thrive in the cooler climate influenced by the San Pablo Bay. When one first sees the estate from the road, it is somewhat like a fairy tale. The French-style château looms above the highway like the grande dame of Carneros. Walking up the long flight of stairs from the lower parking lot, one feels a bit like a royalty, surrounded by vineyards and meticulous landscaping. Standing on the patio surrounding the château, one can see miles and miles of southern Napa Valley’s countryside on a clear day.

Once inside the Visitor Center or the Chateau Society room, visitors are immediately greeted warmly by a host and seated at a table either inside or outside, depending on the weather. Both indoor seating areas feature classical European décor with great attention to the smallest details. During this most recent visit, I met a friend and we were hosted inside in the club room because I was there to pick up my December wine club shipment. Our tasting host was the best Domaine Carneros has to offer, Laura. People make reservations and request Laura so often that she cannot serve everyone. However, my friend and I were lucky this visit.

Before us were placed the menus, where one can choose from different flights of four wines each – sparkling, red, mixed, or premium sparkling – ranging in price from $24 to $32 per person. One can also order wines by the glass and by the bottle, as well as select hors d’oeuvres such as cheese and charcuterie plates, smoked salmon, and caviar. We elected to taste four sparkling wines – Brut, Blanc de Noir, Brut Rosé, and Vermeil Demi-Sec – accompanied by cheese and charcuterie, all of which were delicious. Laura paid special attention to my friend, since she had not been there as often as me, explaining each of the four wines in great detail. During the tasting, the Visitor Center Director stopped at our table to welcome us. We thought the tasting had concluded, but Laura surprised us with tastes of other sparkling wines, such as the current release Ultra Brut, Late Disgorged Brut, Le Rêve, and Le Rêve Late Disgorged. All of the wines were gorgeous. However, I have a special place in my heart for the vintage Brut Rosé, with its juicy red berry and stone fruit aromas and flavors, vibrant acidity, creamy mousse, and wallet-friendly price tag. I took home my two-bottle Ultra Brut shipment, while my friend enrolled in the Chateau Society wine club and took home a Brut Rosé and Le Rêve Late Disgorged as her first shipment.

As it turned out, we spent three and a half hours at Domaine Carneros this visit and we did not want the experience to end. After two years living in Napa and approximately ten visits to Domaine Carneros, I firmly believe that the hospitality, experience, and quality of sparkling wines are second to none. My friend and I departed feeling like we had experienced something special that went far beyond sparkling wines and food.

Address & Contact Information: 1240 Duhig Rd. Napa, California 94559. Telephone: 707-257-0101, email:, website: Tasting Hours: 10:00-5:30.

Overall Rating:  

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