Domaine Chandon – Yountville, CA
You are hereby granted permission to sip bubbly and nibble
on duck pate in the middle of the afternoon for no reason other
than the fact that you deserve it. You're welcome.
in the sunny tasting room of Domaine Chandon in Yountville with
nothing to do but watch the bubbles rise in your champagne flute
is a luxurious dalliance any day of the week. Paired with small plats from
the famous Chandon kitchen—like salmon, duck pate or a plate
of farm cheeses—it becomes a dreamy excuse to wile away the afternoon
in Wine Country among the vines.
by French sparkling wine house, Moet-Hennessey, Domaine Chandon
is a rather sprawling Yountville complex that includes a large
tasting room, education center, winery, restaurant and sculpture-studded
grounds. It's easy to get a bit lost, so start by heading up
the stairs, past the wall of green bottles, to the tasting salon
for a glass or two…or three of sparkling wine.
are broken into several choices, from the Prestige Cuvee tasting
of the beautifully crafted etoile (which means star in
French) sparkling wines to the winery's reserve, classic and
still wine selections. Small plates can be ordered at the tasting
bar, designed to pair well with the bubbly selections.
from a combination of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a rare (at least
in America) grape called Pinot Meunier, each of the wines has
a unique characteristic. The etoile wines, which allow the vintners
to escape from appellation designations and other constraints
of everyday winemaking, are some of the most creative of the
Chandon wines, with complex elegance. The etoile Brut,
with a slightly sweeter taste and hints of almond, honey and
floral notes, is a particular star of the lineup.
winery has recently diversified its collection to include still
wines made from its sparkling wine varietals. Among them, the
Pinot Meunier, which is one of only two made in the valley, is
a rare and unique wine with a light, delicate footprint and balanced
the holidays, Chandon releases a sparkling red wine made with
Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. Unlike most pale sparkling wines, it
is a deep garnet color with notes of berry and cranberry, slightly
off dry. Made in small batches, it sells out almost every year.
of the winery happen at 11am, 1, 3 and 5pm and are worth sticking
around for to learn about the sometimes complex process of making
sparkling wine. Open until 6pm, you can always return to your
sunny seat at the tasting salon afterward to test out your newfound
knowledge and test out a few sparklers.
If you go:
Domaine Chandon is also home to a three-star restaurant featuring
elegant French-California cuisine. Open for lunch and dinner, reservations
are recommended in advance, and the restaurant is closed on Tuesday
and Wednesday, and throughout the month of January.
Chandon, One California Drive., Yountville, 707-944.2280.