The grapes for our 2005 Chardonnay Reserve, Carneros, Napa Valley were harvested from several outstanding vineyards in the cool-climate Carneros district, with 46% from our own estate vines. The wine is a blend not only of vineyards, but also of four superb clones of Chardonnay that flourish in cool-climate regions like Carneros. Their small-berried clusters yield Chardonnays with intense, beautifully balanced varietal flavors. In 2005, we harvested our Carneros fruit in ideal condition between September 26th and October 20th.
2005 is proving an exceptional vintage. As in 2004, budbreak was early due to a warm late winter, but the weather then turned cool and rainy, delaying vine development. Atypically cool temperatures continued throughout the summer, further slowing the ripening process and extending the harvest season, which finally reached fruition with classic early-fall weather in late September and October. Due to the length of the growing season, our Carneros Chardonnay grapes spent an extended period on the vine developing deeply concentrated flavors at moderate sugar levels. The result is a rich, beautifully balanced wine of great depth and complexity.
One hundred percent of the grapes were harvested at night by hand and whole-cluster pressed to yield fresh, pure juice. After cold-settling in tank for 36 hours, 77% of the juice was inoculated with several cultured yeast strains that enhance the fruitiness and rich texture of Chardonnay, while 23% fermented with native yeast strains, which foster greater complexity and a pleasing mineral tone. All the juice fermented in French oak barrels, 32% new, with 21% 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 14 months in barrel, with frequent 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 January, 2007.
Our 2005 Chardonnay Reserve, Carneros, Napa Valley initially showcases vibrant Granny Smith apple and spiced pear aromas, with undertones of melon and citrus. With airing, a pronounced creamy tone emerges, along with enticing scents of warm baking spices and toasty, spicy French oak. On the palate, a rich, creamy texture introduces concentrated, beautifully structured apple and melon flavors augmented by luscious butterscotch and savory, toasty oak tones, leading to a long, multi-faceted finish featuring subtle baked bread, mineral and citrus notes. Delicious to drink now, this luxurious, complex, finely structured Chardonnay will gain additional richness and complexity with another 5-8 years of bottle age.