The grapes for our Napa Valley Chardonnay come primarily from the valley’s cooler southern regions, which stretch from the fog-chilled Carneros district to relatively warmer sites just north of the town of Napa. Blending fruit from diverse microclimates and soils allows us to craft a rich, ripe, elegantly structured Chardonnay that’s delicious on release, but also ages well in bottle. To enhance the wine’s freshness and protect our vineyard workers from the high temperatures prevalent during harvest, we pick all of our fruit at night, ensuring it arrives at the winery in pristine condition.
The 2009 growing season was “cool” in all respects. Spring rains replenished the water table in Napa Valley, deferring the need for irrigation. Summer brought consistently below-average temperatures, resulting in the slow, even and parallel development of grape sugars and flavors. This allowed the fruit to reach peak maturity at lower sugar levels, a highly desirable outcome. As a result, we harvested our Napa Valley Chardonnay grapes between September 2nd and October 2nd with an ideal balance of ripe flavors and crisp balancing acidity.
We harvest at night by hand to protect our vineyard workers from summer’s heat and to ensure our Chardonnay grapes are picked at cool temperatures, which preserves their fruit purity and bright natural acidity. We then whole-cluster-press the fruit – which similarly preserves freshness and purity – and transfer the juice to a combination of French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks for fermentation. In 2009, 86% of the juice fermented in barrel, while 14% became wine in tank, with a 7% undergoing a secondary, malolactic fermentation. The component wines age in barrel on their yeast lees, with periodic stirring, the frequency of which is determined by sensory analysis of each lot. This enhances texture and richness while preserving varietal expressiveness. Finally, the lots are blended and the finished wine is bottled during the spring following the harvest.
Our 2009 Napa Valley Chardonnay boasts lovely, perfumed aromas of fresh melon, yellow apple, lime and white peach, with complementary mineral and toasty-spicy oak scents. On the full-bodied, yet sleek palate, the wine offers concentrated, beautifully focused, peach, apple and citrus zest flavors, with mineral and spice tones enlivening the long, refreshing finish. Delightful now, this purely delicious Napa Valley Chardonnay will blossom further with another six months in bottle and, with proper cellaring, will drink beautifully for another 3 to 5 years.