Wine, Cheese, and Wine & Cheese Ice Cream from Humphry Slocombe, Domaine Carneros, and Laura Chenel



Happy Halloween! Today we have all kinds of treats, no ticks.

Wine, cheese, and ice cream are some of my very favorite treats.
Separately for sure.
Wine + Cheese: Well, obviously.
But Wine+Cheese+Ice Cream altogether?! 
It turns out the answer is a big ‘Hell Yeah!’




Over the weekend Greg and I had the chance to attend a media event hosted at Domaine Carneros to celebrate the launch of their new Wine & Cheese ice cream flavor, a collaboration between themselves, Humphry Slocombe, and Laura Chenel. All good things coming together!

Disclaimer Moment: Full disclosure, I started working with Domaine Carneros in a PR capacity earlier this year. However, all opinions in this post are my own and I have not been paid for this post. Moreover, I’ve been a big fan of their wines for a very long time. It also happens to be one of my favorite places to stop in Napa. It’s such a beautiful spot! In case you don’t believe me, here’s photographic evidence from a few of my visits over the years – all long before I began working with them. 


Top Left: My first trip was during my friend Dana's bachelorette weekend, several years ago now. Top Right: Goofing off with my mom and Greg, my dad was taking the picture. Bottom Left: With my friend Kristie Tacey, our friend Laura was taking the picture. Bottom Right: With a group of buds, including my bestie Anto, good friend Wei, and Greg.

Back to the ice cream! The Wine & Cheese Ice Cream was developed by Humphry Slocombe and features ice cream using Laura Chenel’s Original Chef’s Chevre with swirls of Domaine Carneros’ Pinot Noir. This is actually the third flavor collaboration between Humphry Slocombe and Domaine Carneros, the prior flavors being Cherry Fizz in 2018 and Rosé all Day Sorbet in 2017. This is the first time Laura Chenel’s cheeses have been a part of the mix.


We’ve encountered more than one skeptical look from people when we’ve told them about this flavor, but it was honestly so delicious. I love berry cheesecake ice cream and this is in that vein, but a little less sweet and more sophisticated. The flavors blend beautifully. The goat cheese creeps up on the finish in a pleasant way, so that its present and distinct without being overpowering. For it’s part, the Pinot almost reads a bit like an elegant cherry sorbet.

Let’s be honest, when it comes to oddball flavors, Humphry Slocombe has pretty rightly earned the benefit of the doubt. They have a long history of turning seemingly weird flavor combos into delicious ice cream. This one will be available for a limited time starting on November 4th at all Humphry Slocombe scoop shops, via Goldbelly, and at Domaine Carneros. I’m still dreaming about it, so I’m going to have to get my hands on some more.



The fun didn’t end there, though. We also had the chance to taste flights of Domaine Carneros’ wines with a selection of  Laura Chenel’s cheeses, and you know I love to mix and match to see what works.

Let’s start with the cheese.

 

The Cheese

Laura Chenel spent a decade working and studying in Europe, New York and the San Francisco Bay Area. When she eventually returned home to Sonoma County in the 1970’s, she'd grown very interested in natural foods. She also wanted her work to connect her to the land, so that she could be self-sufficient. She ultimately decided to buy goats and grew attached to them. Her herd grew and the cheese-making began.

Nowadays, the company also sources milk for their cheese, but they only work with family farms across the western US, with whom they maintain close, cooperative relationships. They were also the first creamery to earn LEED Gold Certification. They use 100% solar power and recycle their water. 




Chef’s Chevre

Their original. Creamy and tangy goodness.

 

Creamy Brie

A tangy twist on a classic favorite. This cheese has a thin, bloomy rind with the velvety texture we all love in a brie. The flavor is in line with what you’d expect from a brie as well, but with grass and citrus notes in the mix.


Crottin

A notch up in sophistication. This is a soft-ripened, aged goat cheese with a wrinkled, bloomy rind. A dense center is surrounded by a luxuriously creamy layer. The citrus and grass are still in these, but they're joined by mushroomy notes from the aging.


Ash Rind Buchette

I’m in love! This is a soft-ripened goat cheese that takes its inspiration from a traditional style from the Loire Valley made with Geotrichum candidum rinds. (Geotrichum candidum is a microorganism with both yeast and mold forms.)  This one is dusted with vegetable ash and aged for 8-12 days. It was tangy and earthy, with a chalky, dense center surrounded by a creamy, oozy layer just below the rind. I found this cheese to be surprisingly versatile for pairing among the wines as well.


How tempting are these cheeses?! They were as good as they look.

The Wines


Domaine Carneros was founded by the family behind Champagne Taittinger. Beginning in the late 70’s, Claude Taittinger searched for a long time to find an ideal location for a U.S. project. In 1987 he chose the spot the domaine is now on in Carneros, which marks the southern end of Napa and Sonoma. It holds the distinction of being the only AVA to straddle the two counties – Domaine Carneros is on the Napa side. It’s located north of San Pablo Bay, which brings fog and cool breezes to the area. The cooler climate makes Carneros ideal for the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes used in the traditional method sparkling wines Domaine Carneros is known for.




Domaine Carneros’ fairytale château pays homage to the 18th century Château de la Marquetterie, Taittinger’s home in Champagne. But they’re more than just a pretty face. In addition to being incredibly beautiful, Domaine Carneros is also very committed to sustainability. For example, in 2003, they installed the largest solar power system of any winery in the world. They’re also certified by Napa Green, the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, and Fish Friendly Farming as well.

Eileen Crane is the Founding Winemaker and oversaw the development of the winery and vineyards. Today she is CEO, while Zak Miller is the Sparkling Winemaker and TJ Evans is the Pinot Noir Winemaker. I LOVE their bubbly wines, but today we’re going to look predominantly at their still Pinots, as they were the intended focus of the tasting. 
 




Winemaking notes bellow taken from tech sheets and the Domaine Carneros website. 

2017 Avant-Garde Pinot Noir ($29)

Winemaking Deets: The fruit for this wine is sourced from all five Domaine Carneros vineyards in Carneros. The wine is fermented in small open-topped tanks and then aged for 8 months in Burgundian French oak barrels from cooperages that are specially selected to complement the aroma and flavor profile of this wine.

Tasting Notes: Bright cherry and berry flavors, accented by  floral notes and baking spices. A very versatile Pinot.

Cheese Pairings: This was the intended pairing with the original chevre and it did work quite well. It was also solid with the Ash Rind Buchette.  I didn’t like it as much with the Brie. 



2016 Domaine Carneros Estate Pinot Noir ($44)

Winemaking Deets: This wine is also sourced from their five different Estate Vineyards. The grapes were gently de-stemmed, leaving many whole berries. A cold soak followed for five full days prior to fermentation, which took nine to twelve days in small open-topped vats. The fermenting must was punched down three times a day to heighten color and flavor development. After pressing off, the finished wine went directly into French Oak barrels where it rested for ten months until bottling.

Tasting Notes: Cranberry, dark berries, bramble, with hints of cola and spice.

Cheese Pairings: This was nice with the Crottin and the Brie. The Ash rind Brie brought out more fruit in the wine.



2016 Le Ciel Serein Pinot Noir ($59)

Winemaking Deets:  This site was selected for its rolling hills, diverse exposure, and exceptional soils. It has been carefully planted to a wide variety of Pinot Noir clones. Year after year it has proven itself by consistently delivering lush, aromatic, and exciting Pinot Noir. This edition features the vaunted “Dijon 667” clone (72%). Three other selections complete the blend, the “Pommard UCD-5” (9%), “Dijon 115” (6%), and “Dijon 777” (5%). The final blend spent 15 months in barrel.

Tasting Notes: Dark cherries, cranberry, sweet dark berries, smoke, and woodsy notes. A very elegant Pinot. Easy-drinking and elegant at the same time.

Cheese Pairing: This was excellent with the Ash Rind, one of the favorite pairings of the day. It intensified the ashy note in the cheese (in a good way), and the combination brought more fruit in the wine. 


 

2017 The Famous Gate Pinot Noir ($85)

Winemaking Deets: This wine is cultivated from 12 separate clonal selections in a wide variety of soils. In this iteration, there are three supporting characters. Of course, we have the Swan (81%), but it is complemented by Hanzell (7%), Pommard UCD-5 (5%), and Dijon 115 (4%). The grapes are gently de-stemmed, followed by a cold soak for five days to extract color and aromatics. They use small open topped vats and the cap was punched down three times daily. The wine was aged in barrel for 16 months, and the final blend was racked once before bottling without fining or filtration.

Tasting Notes: Tart berries, pomegranate, and herbs with hints of floral notes and spice. Elegant and balanced, with a more savory edge.

Cheese Pairing: Very nice with the Brie.




Now, I know I said I wasn’t going to focus on the bubblies, but here are a few quick pairings:

The Ultra Brut paired nicely with the goat cheese.
The Brut Rosé was nice with Brie.
Their Vermeil Demi-Sec was versatile and generally solid with all of the cheeses.




This is experience is not a part of their usual line up, but the winery does offer a Bubbles & Bites tasting, and they always have delicious cheese plates on offer in the tasting room. Details on these and other visit options here.

Now I'm just going to bombard you with a bunch of Greg's pretty pictures from the day.






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