Our Tinsley Ranch, in southern Napa Valley’s cool Carneros region, was planted exclusively to Chardonnay vines in 1986. Because the rootstock used proved immune to phylloxera – the root louse that during the 1990s necessitated the replanting of much of Napa’s vineyard acreage – Tinsley boasts the oldest Chardonnay vines in the region. Devoted entirely to the Clone 4 selection of Chardonnay, which over the years has produced many of California’s finest renditions of the variety, Tinsley yields fruit boasting intense varietal flavors balanced by bright acidity and a refreshing minerality.
The 2009 growing season in Napa Valley was “cool” in all respects. Spring rains replenished the water table, deferring the need for irrigation, which kept berry sizes small. Summer brought consistently below-average temperatures, resulting in the slow, parallel development of grape sugars and flavors. This allowed the fruit to reach peak maturity at lower sugar levels, a desirable outcome. We harvested our Tinsley Ranch Chardonnay grapes between September 16th and 19th with an ideal balance of ripe fruit flavors and crisp balancing acidity.
Night-harvesting our Tinsley Ranch grapes protected our vineyard workers from summer’s heat and ensured that the fruit was picked cold to preserve its pure flavors and bright natural acidity. We subsequently whole-cluster-pressed the fruit – which similarly preserves freshness and purity – and transferred the juice to French oak barrels, 37% new, for fermentation. Thirty-eight percent of the wine underwent a secondary, malolactic fermentation to enhance mouthfeel and promote a lush, creamy tone. The wine aged eight months in barrel on its yeast lees, with periodic stirring, to foster additional richness and complexity. It was bottled in July, 2010.
Our 2009 Tinsley Ranch Chardonnay boasts a lovely, complex nose of ripe peach, melon and tropical fruit, with notes of fresh butter, vanilla, yeast and mineral. Round, viscous and delightfully supple on the palate, with lush, creamy, golden apple flavors, it turns sleek and refreshing on the lengthy finish, with bright mineral, citrus and toasted oak tones adding complexity. A wonderfully shapely wine embodying the finest attributes of Napa Valley Chardonnay, the Tinsley Ranch is thoroughly delicious now, but will age well in bottle for another 2-3 years.
Tinsley Ranch,Carneros, Napa Valley
September 16 - 19, 2009
100% French Oak
8 months in French oak, 37% new, with periodic stirring of the lees.