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Carneros Pinot Noir, 2011
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.
The 2011 vintage was about as perfect as it could possibly be. We had a long cool growing season with no heat spikes. We were able to let the grapes slowly ripen and we were able to pick them at the perfect time. This has resulted in a nimble wine that is full of richness and power, but with freshness. This is a very difficult balance to achieve where the wine is rich but light on its feet.
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.
The aromas of this wine quickly communicate its complexity and depth. Ripe plum, conifer, and earth mingle with boysenberry, rose hops and fresh thyme. On the palate, the bold fruit flavors—predominantly raspberry and Rainier cherry—are nuanced with veins of minerality, savory herbs and subtle vanilla hints.
Food and Wine Pairing
The richness of this Pinot Noir complements bolder-flavored foods, from Portobello burgers with romesco sauce and grilled octopus to rabbit braised in red wine and grilled tofu or spare ribs with Hoisin sauce.
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