From their storied vineyards to the vibrant sparkling wine in your glass, Friday’s Featured Winery – Domaine Chandon – blends the best of centuries-old French Champagne traditions and new world innovation. Domaine Chandon’s history dates all the way back to 1743 in Epernay, France, where the esteemed Champagne House Moët & Chandon was born.
But let’s fast forward precisely 230 years to 1973, when Moët’s director Robert-Jean de Vogue had a stroke of genius and established the first French-owned sparkling wine house outside of France – Domaine Chandon, in Napa Valley, California. In the 1970s, Napa had not yet gained its renown as a wine-producing region in the world. But the investment that Moët & Chandon made in the area certainly caught the attention of the rest of the world, and undoubtedly changed the course of history for Napa Valley itself.
That very same year, Domaine Chandon founder John Wright and grower Will Nord selected Yountville, Napa Valley as the winery’s home, and planted the first vineyards on Mount Veeder and in the Carneros region.
The first crush took place in nearby Trefethan, and for the next twenty years, Chandon’s Senior Winemaker Dawnine Dyer and his team married the vibrancy of their California fruit with the old world winemaking traditions of Moët, ensuring an always exceptional, always distinctive sparkling wine, year after year. After pressing the grapes (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay varieties), the juice is separated into two or three lots for its first primary fermentation. Using proprietary yeast strains from France and their know-how in the art of blending, the wine is then bottled (with a little sugar) to achieve the second fermentation – this is the “méthode traditionelle” that makes the wine effervescent. Next comes the aging period, where the sparkling wine develops its richness and complexity. Usually this aging period lasts twelve to fifteen months for Chandon’s classics (like Brut and Rosé), and much longer for their Cuvées, averaging five to seven years. Then the wine is clarified, a process that moves the yeast to the neck of the bottle. The necks are then frozen and the yeast is expelled, and then a small amount of sugar dissolved in reserved wine is added before the cork is inserted – two techniques called disgorgement and dosage.
GiftTree happily carries two non-vintages of Domaine Chandon’s beloved sparkling wines – Brut Classic and Brut Rosé. Rated 89 points by Wine Enthusiast, Domaine Chandon’s Brut Classic sparkling wine is a blend of 68% Chardonnay and 12% Pinot Noir from sundry Northern California sites. This is a dry, citrusy and easy-drinking sparkling wine, ideal for special get togethers or as an opener to the night. Fresh pear and citrus intermingle throughout bright acidity and a lingering finish. You don’t need to age this wine – just chill it and enjoy it right away.
And Chandon Brut Rosé is a luscious sparkling wine with intense ripe strawberry, juicy watermelon, and fresh red cherry fruit aromas and flavors. On the palate, this wine is creamy and seductive with a defined structure from the Pinot Noir added in its final stages.
Of course chocolate and desserts are the most popular pairings for sparkling wine, but they also go surprisingly well with a number of food pairings, from soft mushroom-y cheeses like Brie or Camembert, to shrimp skewers, smoked salmon, caviar and more. Absolutely anything in a butter cream sauce will go perfectly with Chandon’s sparkling wines, or venture off the beaten path and try pairing them with prosciutto and potato chips! (Trust us!)
With Valentine’s Day approaching, here at GiftTree we’ve designed some amazing Chandon gifts that really do pay homage to the Domaine, including our Brut Rosé and chocolate truffle pairing in a leather box, a luscious pairing of Brut Classic splits and Caviar, and even a bouquet of truffles, elegantly arranged in a stainless Gorham chiller and delivered with a bottle of Brut Rosé. No matter which Chandon gift you choose, your Valentine is sure to be swept off their feet!