This distinctive Pinot Noir is an intensely fragrant, elegant expression of the varietal, with an deep cherry red color and powerful, classic Carneros aromas of blackberry and spice offset by notes of toast and vanilla from its time in oak. On the palate the wine is full, generously fruity and perfectly balanced, with superb harmony of lushness and sustaining acidity set in a structure marked by supple tannins and a silky texture. The finish is long and aristocratic, confirming the impressions of dark fruit and spice.
Domaine Carneros Winery
A joint venture between Champagne Taittinger and Kobrand Corporation, partners who are perfectionists in their fields, Domaine Carneros has established itself since its inception in 1987 as one of California's finest producers of premium quality, methode traditionelle sparkling wines. The inspiration for Domaine Carneros belongs to Champagne Taittinger; the first glimmerings of the concept were shaped in the mind of Claude Taittinger in 1947. The 138 acre estate is situated in the Carneros appellation of Northern California, a 36,900 acre viticultural area which straddles the border between the Napa and Sonoma counties at their southern extremity. The estate's vineyards extend up a slope rising to a crest overlooking San Francisco and San Pablo Bay, with an elevation of 120 to 260 feet above sea level.
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California has nearly 100 American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) and accounts for almost 90% of wine production in the United States. In our section of Other California, we include wines from smaller AVAs as well as wines from the California AVA. Here are a few smaller AVAs you may see on the label:
Livermore Valley AVA
, located right outside of San Francisco and home to wineries such as Wente.
Lodi County AVA
, an AVA further east of San Francisco and known for its excellent, old-vine Zinfandels.
San Francisco Bay AVA
, a sprawling AVA that covers Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, to name a few.
Wine that holds only the California AVA is typically a wine that includes grapes from a number of different AVAs, which leads to the general labeling of the wine as California. This does not denote the quality of the wine, only the diversity of where the grapes originate.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country unto itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.