Man does not live by Prosecco alone. In deference to that fact, Domaine Chandon has released their third annual limited-edition American Summer Blanc de Noirs ($20). The patriotic bubbly is packaged in an attractive red, white and blue bottle, and is just aching to be invited out to the pool.
Founded in 1973, Chandon was the first venture from a French Champagne house to set up shop in California. The winemaking team from Moët and Dom Pérignon were very involved in the project from the beginning, and helped finalize the vineyard selection. Although they still come over to consult during harvest, Domaine Chandon is not Champagne. They produce a more forward and fruity style of sparkling wine, flavorful and dramatic, distinctly American in character.
Blanc de Noirs may be the most intriguing offering in the entire range of sparkling wines. As a white wine made from black grapes (Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier), it combines the best of both worlds, with nuances of red fruits haunting the nose, palate and finish. Chandon’s version is a wine of some repute, and has been repeatedly served at White House receptions.
To match this year’s festive American Summer bottle, Jonathan Adler has designed a set of serving trays in small ($78) and large ($98) sizes, available online and in all Jonathan Adler stores. Both attractive and functional, the trays are inlaid with a red, white and blue anchor pattern; best of all, they’re acrylic, so you can fearlessly carry them poolside.
And what about the bubbly itself? It has a pale straw color and a fresh, lightly yeasty nose with suggestions of crushed strawberries and raspberries. In the mouth, the wine has a crisp, firm palate imprint with prominent acidity and flavors of lemon, lime, peaches and red fruits. The finish is long and mouthwatering. Because of the acidity and assertive flavor profile, it would pair well with everything from finger food and shellfish to grilled fish and chicken, and would make a nice match (as the back label suggests) with spicy cuisines.
If you’re planning a visit to Napa this summer, be sure to put Chandon on the itinerary. Set back from the traffic of Route 29, the winery welcomes 250,000 visitors each year for tours and tastings in a peaceful and tranquil environment. Cap your visit with a meal at Étoile, their award-winning restaurant under the direction of Chef Perry Hoffman.
Mark Spivak is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, published by Lyons Press; his second book, Moonshine Nation, is forthcoming from Lyons Press on July 15. For more information, go to amazon.com