Our Napa Valley Chardonnay offers fresh, lovely pear and ripe Granny Smith apple aromas with supporting mineral, baked bread and baking spice scents. Full and richly textured on the palate, the citrusy crisp, spiced-apple and pear flavors are enriched by yeast and toasty oak tones that extend into a very long, rich, minerally finish. Youthfully compact, with superb structure and an ideal balance of fresh fruit, acid and wood tones, this beautiful Napa Valley Chardonnay, one of Cakebread's very best, should develop in the bottle for another 3 to 5 years.
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.
|Wine maker notes
|Our Chardonnay fruit was 100% whole-cluster-pressed to minimize astringency from the skins. Pressing the fruit cold assures even lower extraction of astringent compounds, which also increases the long term aging potential in white wines. Three quarters of the juice was barrel fermented in 35% new French oak barrels at 50-55º F, a slow, cool fermentation that fostered a perfect balance of ripe fruit, yeast, natural acidity and toasty oak. The remaining portion was fermented in stainless steel tanks, with those lots transferred to barrel once fermentation completed. While barrel fermentation promotes complexity and richness, tank fermentation maximizes fruit intensity. Partial malolactic fermentation, primarily of the higher acid lots, further enhanced the harmony of these elements. During nine months of barrel aging, the wines were frequently hand stirred to promote the integration of fruit, yeast, acid and oak, resulting in a beautifully balanced Chardonnay of elegant richness.
|The Cakebreads show their commitment to quality through their years of family teamwork, their stewardship of the land, their care in growing and vinifying individual lots of grapes for each wine and their public programs for healthy living. The result is a world-class winery that crafts distinctive wines and welcomes dedicated visitors year after year.