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Carneros Pinot Noir, 2012
Chandon is best known as one of America’s top sparkling wines. Less known is Domaine Chandon also produces limited quantities of varietal wines from our estate vineyards. These wines are crafted by drawing on experience with traditional Champagne varietals and by showcasing select parcels from our Carneros ranch, where Chandon was among the pioneering growers and vintners of the region.
2012 was a wonderful vintage in Carneros. We had a very mild growing season with very low yields. The berries were very small which led to wines with lots of color and richness. Often times, this can be too much of a good thing. To ensure a well-balanced Pinot Noir, we were diligent in harvesting the fruit at optimal conditions and perfecting the blend.
Our Carneros terroir is diverse with rolling hills sloping to San Pablo Bay. The proximity of the bay moderates the vineyard microclimates with morning and evening fog along with afternoon breezes. The cool, extended growing season is ideal for Pinot Noir and provides the long hang time essential for complexity, intense aromatics and flavor, and finesse. Our Pinot Noir parcels intended for still wines are on alluvial clay and Haire clay loam soils. These devigorating shallow soils are perfect for intense still wines because they grow compact clusters with very small berries. The small berries have a very high skin to juice ratio, which results in lots of color and flavor along with fine tannins.
Our Pinot Noir grapes were sorted and added to open-top fermenters, with a small percentage of lots maintained as whole clusters. A high percentage of the must was fermented using native yeasts. While the wine was actively fermenting, it was treated to daily punch downs and the occasional délestage. After the wine finished fermentation it is transferred to French oak barrels, 30 percent new, where it underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged for 16 months.
Cherry, toasty oak and star anise take center stage aromatically. Santa Rosa plum, forest floor and sage flavors are supported by supple tannins in this exceptional vintage.
Food and Wine Pairing
Tasting this wine one afternoon, we were struck by how delicious it would be served with grilled octopus, French onion soup or a pizza with Hen-of-the-woods mushrooms. Needless to say, it is an extremely food–friendly wine.
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