The grapes for our 2004 Napa Valley Reserve Chardonnay came from the cool Carneros district: 30% from our own Foster Road Vineyard and 70% from our long term grower and. The wine is a blend not only of vineyards, but also of four superb, Dijon clones of Chardonnay that flourish in cool-climate regions and were selected expressly for planting in Carneros. Their small-berried clusters yield Chardonnays with intense, beautifully balanced varietal flavors.
In 2004, a warm late winter resulted in early budbreak, followed by consistently mild spring and summer temperatures and several September heat spells. The result was our earliest harvest since 1982, with the grapes for our Reserve Chardonnay picked between August 27th and September 15th. Due to the early start of the season and the even summer ripening pattern, the grapes attained perfect maturity, with small berries full of ripe, concentrated flavors. Consequently, our 2004 Chardonnays exhibit impressive depth, structure and intensity with vivid varietal flavors balanced by bright acidity.
The grapes were night-harvested by hand and 100% whole-cluster pressed to yield fresh, pure juice. After cold-settling in tank for 36 hours, 88% of the juice was inoculated with several cultured yeast strains that enhance the fruitiness and rich texture of Chardonnay, while 12% was fermented with native yeast strains, which foster greater complexity and a pleasing mineral tone. All the juice fermented in French oak barrels, 54% new, with 36% undergoing a secondary, malolactic fermentation to enrich the wine’s texture and develop a pleasingly creamy, buttery tone. Aging on the primary yeast lees for 15 months in barrel, with periodic stirring, added a silky texture and subtle yeasty richness to the wine’s intense varietal fruit flavors. After racking off the lees, the wine was bottled in December, 2005.
Our 2004 Napa Valley Reserve Chardonnay opens with toasty, buttery scents from barrel and malolactic fermentation. As the wine airs, lovely fresh pear, Fuji apple and ripe melon scents emerge, with subtle mineral tones adding intrigue. Lushly textured, with a silky viscosity, the creamy palate offers layered pear, apple and melon fruit flavors enriched by toasty oak tones and a hint of baked bread in the wine’s long, luxurious finish. Wonderfully concentrated and beautifully balanced, this superb Napa Valley Chardonnay will continue developing in the bottle for another 5-8 years.