Napa Valley offers a spectrum of microclimates and soil types ideal for cultivating Chardonnay. We source fruit for our Napa Valley Chardonnay primarily from vineyards in the valley’s cool-climate southern districts, ranging from the fog-chilled Carneros appellation to warmer sites just north of the town of Napa. This diversity of terroir allows us to craft a rich, elegantly structured Chardonnay that drinks beautifully on release, but ages well in bottle. To enhance the wine’s freshness and protect our vineyard workers from harvest-time heat, we pick the majority of our fruit at night, ensuring it arrives at the winery in pristine condition.
2011 was among the coldest, wettest and latest vintages in memory. Wet winter and spring weather extended into mid-June, delaying and disrupting budbreak, bloom and fruit set and setting the stage for a cool summer growing season that culminated in a prolonged harvest. The cool summer weather fostered slow, even ripening and the development of optimal fruit flavors at lower-than-normal sugar levels. This helped us craft a beautifully balanced Chardonnay with fresh acidity and classic varietal aromas and flavors.
Our winemaking regimen with Chardonnay is predicated on night harvesting, which ensures the grapes are picked cold and retain their fruit purity and bright natural acidity. After a short drive to the winery, the fruit is whole-cluster-pressed – further preserving freshness and purity – and the juice is transferred to a combination of French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks for fermentation. In 2011, 90% of our Chardonnay juice fermented in barrel, while 10% became wine in tank, with 9% of the individual lots selected to undergo malolactic fermentation. All but a small percentage of the component wines aged in barrel for eight months sur lie to enhance texture and richness, with the frequency of lees stirring based on the characteristics of each lot.
Our 2011 Napa Valley Chardonnay opens with fresh, creamy aromas of ripe pear, apple and citrus, with light butter, yeast and spicy oak tones adding complexity. The wine’s rich, focused, green apple, melon and guava flavors are nicely balanced by fresh acidity and a piquant mineral tone. Both mouthfilling and elegant, this quintessential Napa Valley Chardonnay is delectable now, but it will develop even greater complexity with another 5-8 years’ bottle age.
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