Our fourth vintage of Anderson Valley Chardonnay is the first we have produced entirely from our estate vineyard near Booneville in the southeastern end of the valley. One of California’s loveliest wine regions, Anderson Valley follows the Navarro River as it drains into the Pacific Ocean at Albion on the Mendocino Coast. With dry, temperate summer days bracketed by morning and evening fog and cooling ocean breezes, it’s an ideal environment for the cultivation of world-class Chardonnay. The nine distinctive, small-berried Chardonnay clones we cultivate in our estate vineyard, each harvested and fermented separately, further enhance our Anderson Valley Chardonnay’s fine quality and complexity. In 2006, we harvested the grapes between September 27th and October 2nd with an ideal balance of ripe fruit flavors and lively acidity
The long, cool, 2006 growing season began witha wet winter, which delayed bud break and led to a late flowering of the vines. Good weather arrived in June, only to be followed by a sustained heat wave in July. (Fortunately, we hadn’t pulled any leaves from our vines, so the baby grape clusters were protected from sunburn.) Cool weather returned in August and continued throughout the harvest season, resulting in a long grape ripening period that fostered mature flavors balanced by bright acidity. As a result, our 2006 white wines are fresh, aromatic and elegantly structured, with a youthful tautness that suggests they will age beautifully in bottle.
100% of the grapes were hand-harvested at night and whole-cluster-pressed to maximize the freshness of the juice. After settling the juice in tank, we transferred each clonal lot to French oak barrels, 30% new, for fermentation. A significant portion – 42% in 2006 – of our Anderson Valley Chardonnay ferments with wild yeasts from the vineyard which enhances its complexity and expression of terroir. In 2006, only a fraction of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation, to preserve its fresh, vibrant fruit character, while 100% aged eight months on the yeast lees in barrel, with periodic stirring, to promote even greater richness and complexity. After blending, the wine was bottled in July, 2007.
Our 2006 Anderson Valley Chardonnay offers marvelously fresh Fuji apple, spicy pear and sweet melon aromas mingled with enticing baking spice (clove and nutmeg), oak toast and subtle yeast scents. On the palate, the wine boasts a full, but sleek texture with intense apple and spicy pear flavors balanced by subtle vanilla oak tones and crisp, mineral-tinged acidity. Impressively concentrated, yet elegantly structured, this rich, vibrant Chardonnay is delicious now, but will handsomely reward another 3-5 years of bottle aging.