The grapes for our 2006 Reserve Chardonnay were harvested from several outstanding vineyards in the cool-climate Carneros district of Napa Valley, with 55% of the fruit coming from our Foster Road and Milton Road estate vineyards. The wine also is a blend of six different French Dijon clones of Chardonnay, which account for its wonderful perfume and flavor intensity. In 2006, an especially cool growing season in California, our Carneros Chardonnay grapes were harvested between September 26th and October 7th.
Despite concerns about global warming, 2006, like 2005, was a long, cool growing season in Napa Valley. A wet winter and early spring delayed bud break by several weeks, but fine weather arrived in June followed by a significant heat wave in July. Cooler weather returned in August and continued throughout the harvest season, resulting in slow, even ripening of our Chardonnay grapes. High sugars coupled with high acidity at harvest provided us with the perfect raw material with which to craft this luxuriously rich Reserve Chardonnay.
We night-harvested 100% of our Carneros Chardonnay grapes and whole-cluster-pressed the fruit to obtain the freshest, purest juice possible. After cold-settling the must in tank for 36 hours, 75% of the juice was inoculated with cultured yeast strains that enhance the rich fruit character of Chardonnay, while 25% fermented with native yeast strains fostering greater complexity and a pleasing minerality. All the juice fermented in French oak barrels, 35% new, with 14% undergoing a secondary, malolactic fermentation to engender a silky, creamy texture. Aging the wine in barrel on its primary yeast lees for 15 months, with plentiful stirring and no racking, further magnified its textural and flavor richness. After racking off the lees, the wine was bottled in January, 2008.
Our 2006 Napa Valley Reserve Chardonnay offers bright, fragrant aromas of ripe spiced apple, melon, peach, and nectarine fruit accented by creamy oak tones and subtle yeasty scents. In the mouth, the wine is big, rich and creamy, with luscious peach, apple and melon flavors. Toasty oak tones and a crisp, mineral-tinged finish provide balance and structure for this sumptuous Chardonnay, which will gain further complexity with 5-8 additional years of bottle age.