Monday, August 17, 2015

Sipping Champagne at Chandon: A Review

Domaine Chandon review
The entrance to Domaine Chandon!
Oh, Champagne - or really, any sparkling wine - one of life's greatest pleasures. Especially when you are talking high quality, delicious bubbly. While visiting Napa Valley, I couldn't imagine starting off my Saturday morning in a better way than with a vineyard tour and visit of Domaine Chandon! In case you were wondering, yes, that is Chandon of Moët & Chandon. And gosh, is it ever a delicious, fun, and social experience to visit Domaine Chandon!

Domaine Chandon was established in Napa Valley in 1973 as the first French-owned sparkling winery in the U.S. As mentioned above, Domaine Chandon is owned by Moët & Chandon, best known for Moët and Dom Pérignon. Quick lesson in champagne: champagne can only be called champagne if it is produced in Champagne, France- otherwise, it is labeled as a sparkling wine. Read this post for more information on champagne! But anyways, I digress...

Napa Valley vineyards to visit

Chandon is located very central to Napa Valley, right outside of Yountville. Upon pulling up to the vineyard, you might almost miss it as the vineyard and winery has really focused on creating a beautiful, rolling estate that unfolds the more you explore. As you drive up, you will park in the designated lot and slowly anticipation builds as the grounds unfold. The closer to the tasting room you get, the more you are exposed to the beautiful grounds! The tasting room in itself is quite unique, and was designed to resemble seven barrels of wine cascading down the mountains. Truly, the more you explore Chandon, the more that the property opens up and invites you to stay and sip on a glass of bubbly!

Chandon fermentation room
Exploring Domaine Chandon was such a wonderful experience. Our tour guide really helped to give you a terrific amount of knowledge not only in regards to the vineyard and property, but also to wine making in general and how to make champagne - or sparkling - wine. Personally, I would recommend Domaine Chandon as a first stop to anybody visiting Napa Valley because of the wealth of knowledge you will gain, as it can only assist you at future tastings and tours!

Check out all of those barrels- yum!
Different Chandon wines, and a picture of the bottle turning machines - AKA VLM
The tour started off walking around the property, and then we were led into the production rooms and fermentation rooms. Touring the production and fermentation rooms was quite cool. We got to see how the bottles are turned throughout the process- in the old days, winemakers would actually have to manually turn every bottle, every single day! Now, they have these cool machines that automatically rotate and turn the bottles. Making sparkling wine is a time and labor intensive process- that is well worth it! After a tour of these areas and gaining more knowledge about how champagne and sparkling wines are produced, it was on to the tasting room!

The tasting room at Chandon really impressed me. Our group of eight was led into a private area that had been all set up with a portfolio tasting guide, water, pens, and nine separate glasses to try the nine different wines. Typically, the tasting will begin with Chandon's brut classic, and work through the wines one at a time concluding with the Carneros pinot noir. Nick and I shared one tasting, leaving one set of glasses until the end- so we could not only get fantastic pictures, but also revisit our favorites!

excited to try some wines!
While tasting, we got to try nine different Chandon wines. The six sparkling wines included brut classic, blanc de noirs, rosé, extra dry riche, étoile brut, and étoile rosé. Three still wines from the Carneros vineyard included chardonnay, pinot meunier, and pinot noir. Each of the different wines presented so many different flavors and tastes, it was difficult to determine our favorites! One of the coolest aspects of the tasting at Chandon and visiting the vineyards was that we got to try - and possibly purchase- Chandon wines that you can't get anywhere except for at the vineyards.

All nine wines, ready to be sipped upon!
Finally time to try some delicious wine!
After our tasting, we decided to hang out and enjoy the beautiful grounds and company for awhile. The atmosphere at Chandon really encourages you to hang out, be social, and meet new friends. There are certainly more private areas, but I truly felt that this would be a terrific tasting room to visit with a group of friends to stay and relax for the afternoon - or even all day!

Chandon was a terrific vineyard to visit. It was interesting to learn more about wine, champagne, and Chandon as a company and brand. Moët & Chandon really has a strong brand recognition, and that has lent itself to Chandon as a brand. Chandon has many different vineyards and brands, everywhere from Napa Valley to Australia to China. Each different brand will actually only sell wine within that country, so that the various brands are not competing with each other worldwide. For example, 97% of wine produced at Domaine Chandon is sold within the U.S., with the rest going to Canada. All of the Australian Chandon is sold in Australia, all of the Chinese Chandon in China, and so on. It was quite interesting to learn that the different brands don't compete with each other- and on a global scale, it certainly makes sense!

Overall, both the general and specific knowledge we gained while at Chandon was on a scale of it's own. Combine the knowledge with the delicious - and ample - tasting, and this is a winery for everyone! I know that on my next trip to Napa Valley, I'll be scheduling an afternoon to visit Chandon and socialize. While you certainly can stop in for a quick tasting and be on your way, I would recommend enjoying the beautiful property, relaxing, and socializing for awhile! What have been some of the best wineries you have visited, and how did they increase your wine knowledge? When will you be scheduling your trip to Chandon?

**Disclosure: I received a complimentary tour and tasting to facilitate this review. As always, this did not affect my review in any way and all opinions are my own and 100% honest!**


  1. I really think this would be the perfect way to start any Saturday morning. Thanks for this awesome review! Now Napa Valley is on my top must see places!

    1. Thanks Ana! I'd say Napa Valley- or really, any vineyard/wine country area would be great! To be honest, I've never heard of any Slovenian vineyards but I am sure they could definitely hit up one of those, or take a trip to Italy!

  2. This looks like so much fun and has me wanting a glass of champagne right now! I am a pretty basic champagne drinker, and would love to try all of the different varieties. I'm thinking I need to convince the husband that Napa needs to be high up on our bucket list!

    1. I'm with you on being somewhat basic for champagne- I love the cheap stuff! You guys should definitely hit up Napa while you are home next summer...or find a German winery! Germany is well known for rieslings and I bet you could find a good one. Hope your year is starting out terrifically over there!

  3. Yum! We were supposed to stop here during our quick visit to Napa last year, but crazy traffic from San Fran prevented us from making it :( Next time for sure!

    1. Ohh traffic is the worst! And I'm sure you will make it there sometime- Chandon was definitely one of my favorites because it was so unique, beautiful, and social! I could have stayed there all day if I didn't have more appointments at other places!

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