Divine Daytripper Freelance Travel Writer


Domaine Chandon: Sparkling Wine Comes Alive
by Ingrid Hart

Kristin Brott is our purveyor of the liquid nectar


The French describe champagne like the laugh of a pretty girl. At 48-years-old, I’m past the pretty girl phase, but boy do I love me some champagne! Or should I correctly say sparkling wine—the elixir of life. At Napa Valley’s Domaine Chandon’s tasting salon, it’s always New Year’s Eve as bottles of their signature war horse Brut Classic are uncorked and poured to a thirsty, wine tasting crowd—me at the front of the line. Let the celebration begin.

Kristin Brott, our purveyor of the liquid nectar, has been with Chandon as a wine educator for three years. She moved to this fertile valley from Southern California on a whim. I ask her what it’s like working there, and she quickly tells me it’s the best job in the world. “Everyone’s in a good mood. I love to talk about food and wine.” This reminds me of the 30’s Gershwin song "…nice work if you can get it…"

My favorite tasting is the more exclusive 90 point etoile—French for star, Brut. It’s a lighter, more delicate sparkling wine with a bouquet of Fuji apple, Meyers lemon, and toasted almonds. The tiny bubbles give me an instant lift—as if I need it; I’m already filled to the brim with mirth and merry-making.

Being at this first French-owned sparkling wine venture in the United States, established in 1973, makes me feel giddy—so much bouncy history. Plus, I’m right next to an advertisement that makes me giggle. It’s for Saavy Sippers, a gadget you place inside a champagne bottle that allows you to “drink out of the bottle in a classy way.” Kristin, our hookup, tells me “You never know when you need an emergency bit of bubbly, like at the movies.” I believe she’s on to something, so I buy one.

Hibiscus Royale-a combination of Blanc de Noir sparkling wine, wild hibiscus flower in syrup, and rose water

The coup de grâce of the tasting is a sensual cocktail called the Hibiscus Royale—a combination of Blanc de Noir sparkling wine, wild hibiscus flower in syrup, and rose water. The flower sits in the bottom of the champagne flute and slowly opens up over three to four minutes, creating a piece of art I can both admire and drink.

Along for this adventure is my pleasure-seeking friend Charlene, a connoisseur of all things hedonistic, who just got back from her honeymoon in Bermuda and indulged in this almost immoral love potion and claimed it as “an aphrodisiac; you eat the flower and it’s got lots of Vitamin C.” Indeed.

Decadent, divine and oh-so-Napa classy, just like our Domaine Chandon experience. Cheers!