These cellars take you to Europe without leaving Wine Country
Do you miss travel? Do you dream of seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in France or traveling to Spain to attend a flamenco show in Seville?
If the Delta variant of the coronavirus has convinced you to stay local for now, you can still play tourist and take in the beauty of Europe from this side of the pond by visiting these six European-sensitized wineries.
Jordan Winery in Healdsburg: This ivy-covered castle, with its wrought-iron balconies and flower boxes, will transport you to France – at least in your imagination – while drinking in the architecture.
A statue of Bacchus, the god of wine, in the courtyard seems to watch over the vision of founders Tom and Sally Jordan. Francophiles, who adored all that was French, were determined to craft a Bordeaux-style Cabernet Sauvignon that aged well but was accessible in its youth.
Founded in 1972, the estate will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. In preparation, Jordan Winery has spent the last two years renovating its interiors, including the library stocked with a collection of antique books and the cellar with its treasure trove of antiques like a 19th-century French wine press.
If you want a sip of France, go for the Library Tasting, $ 45 per person. Visitors will taste two chardonnays paired with food in the library and then head to the wine cellar to taste three Cabernet Sauvignon, accompanied by a dish and a cheese plate.
The best trio of wines appealing to the French palate are Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 and Jordan Chardonnay 2019.
Located on a vast 1,200-acre estate, the estate has 120 acres planted with vines and produces 100,000 cases each year. Its flagship product is its Bordeaux-style cabernet sauvignon, but the cab’s brother, a Burgundy-style chardonnay, also has many followers.
1474 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg, 707-431-5250, jordanwinery.com
Carneros Estate in Napa: The hillside castle, whose terraces overlook a trellis of vines, has a grand staircase and marble lounges. In the entrance, there is a portrait of Madame de Pompadour, who introduced sparkling wine to the court of Versailles. She said it was “the only wine a woman can drink and stay beautiful”.
The chateau, founded in 1987, was inspired by the classic 18th century chateau de la Marquetterie, the home of Chateau Taittinger in Champagne, France. Claude Taittinger decided to plant American roots in order to create a hybrid, a sparkling one that combines the best of France and California.
Visitors will likely want to explore a range of options and organize their own experience. You can enjoy flights of sparkling wine, still wine, or both, ranging from $ 40 to $ 60 per person. There are Ã la carte choices for food and wine pairings, from platters of artisan cheeses and local charcuterie to smoked salmon and caviar.
A premium tasting option, $ 150 per person, is called the Art of Sabrage. While sipping sparklers and munching on food pairings, visitors learn about the history, legend, and technique of flaming saber (opening a bottle with a saber) practice that dates back to Napoleonic times.
Three tasty bottlings that will impress Francophiles are the flagship Blanc de Blancs Le RÃªve, the Brut Rose CuvÃ©e de la Pompadour and the Famous Gate Pinot Noir.
The winery has 400 acres of vineyards in the Carneros region, which spans the base of the Sonoma and Napa valleys. Thanks to its proximity to the bay of San Pablo, Domaine Carneros takes advantage of the early morning fog and windy afternoons which are ideal for cultivating Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, grape varieties that produce the cellar’s remarkable sparklers.
1240 Duhig Road, Napa, 707-257-0101, domainecarneros.com
ChÃ¢teau Saint-Jean in Kenwood: With Sugarloaf Ridge in the distance, Chateau Saint-Jean is a modern take on a medieval French chateau. A statue of Jean, namesake of the cellar, stands in the main courtyard near a fountain. On the grounds, lush gardens wind around a towering magnolia tree and pond, making you feel like you’ve stepped into a scene from “The Great Gatsby”.
Wine lovers are well aware that the flagship of the estate is the Cinq Cepages, a blend of Bordeaux red; ChÃ¢teau Saint-Jean was the first winery in Sonoma to win the Wine Spectator ‘Wine of the Year’ award with its 1996 vintage.
With an eye on Europe, these two tasting options will not disappoint. The Taste of Sonoma, at $ 40 per person, offers a blend of wines from a single vineyard or specific appellations, highlighting different European grape varieties. The tasting of the chÃ¢teau’s reserve, at $ 45 per person, offers top-notch booting, including the Cinq Cepages.