A Sparkling Dream Wine

  • Richard Carleton Hacker

Domaine Carneros’ 2005 Le Rêve (“the dream”) by Taittinger ($95) is the 14th vintage of the Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine that Claude Taittinger dreamed of creating in California to match the style of his French Comtes de Champagne. To achieve his goal, in 1987 he personally selected noted winemaker Eileen Crane to oversee his new winery. As the founding CEO and winemaker of Domaine Carneros, Crane has guided Taittinger’s Napa winery ever since. But it wasn’t until 1992 that the luxury tête de cuvée Blanc de Blancs Le Rêve was finally born; thus joining Domaine Carneros brut vintage and rosé as California’s only organically certified sparkling wines. And now, the release of the 2005 vintage promises to be among the best Blanc de Blancs this winery has yet produced.

The 2005 Le Rêve is a 100 percent Carneros appellation blend of 99 percent Chardonnay specially selected from five different estate-grown clones, plus 1 percent Pinot Blanc. By French law, Champagne—and by tradition, American sparkling wine—must be aged for a minimum of three years. But surpassing that, the 2005 Le Rêve has been bottle-aged on the lees for five and a half years. The result is a generous mouthfeel of crème brûlée, moist juicy pears, and a hint of pineapple. The finish is extraordinarily long, and the wine possesses a character worthy of additional aging of up to a decade.

“I like to think that my wines are just like Audrey Hepburn,” says Crane. “Elegant, very socially conscious, and all the pieces are in just the right places. When we make Le Rêve it is always in tiny quantities, as it is more a wine of the vintage and has much more individual character that will give it strength, longevity, and fullness. In that aspect, the 2005 Le Rêve is a wine to buy now, with the thought of putting a few cases away for your daughter’s wedding in 10 years.” (800.716.2788, www.domainecarneros.com)

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