The 1999 growing season shared many similarities with the previous vintage. Both were considered "cool" growing years in terms of the number of degree-days as well as the lateness of veraison, or the onset of grape color.
Unusually cool conditions prevailed throughout the spring and summer of 1999, but for several days at the end of September the weather turned hot causing sugar levels to rise dramatically. Levels of pH remained low with the overall acidities staying high. We let our taste buds tell us the best time to pick, not when sugars reach a certain number. Waiting out the hot spell rewarded our patience. Grape sugars actually came back down and flavors remained in balance.
The grapes for this Napa Valley Chardonnay came, as always, from Napa Valley's best Char-donnay micro-climates: the southernmost section of the Valley, and the Carneros region, cool-climate areas famed for the world-class quality of their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
100% of the chardonnay grapes were whole-cluster pressed: a technique that gently and gradually presses juice from the skins, thus avoiding the extraction of harsh tannins. This lends a smooth, silky texture to the finish of the wine and increases the wine's aging potential. A long, cool fermentation followed, with 78% of the chardonnay fermented in French oak barrels and the remainder in stainless steel tanks. Of this latter portion, 12% was not aged in oak, thus it retained a fresh fruitiness. Due to the relatively high acidity of the cool vintage, we allowed 24% of this year's Napa Valley Chardonnay to undergo the softening effects of malolactic fermentation. The wine was then aged nine months in a combination of new, one- and two-year-old French barrels. Weekly stirrings of the yeast lees in the barrels promoted a further integration of the complex flavors and silky-smooth texture.
The 1999 Chardonnay possesses a light straw color with a glint of gold. Its aromas are reminiscent of lemons and apples with a faint floral scent in the background. On entry, the flavors are rich and apple-like, with faint buttery as well as vanillin flavor components, and a subtle hint of oak in the background. The wine has good depth, with an ideal balance of fruit and crisp acidity. A fresh, silky finish completes what we believe is an outstanding Napa Valley Chardonnay.
Alcoholic Content: 14.5%
Total Acidity: 0.66g/100ml