The weather conditions during the 2000 Vintage held few
surprises; bud-break, bloom and fruit-set all occurred in a timely manner.
There was, however, a very brief hot spell that happened in mid-June.
In terms of cumulative so-called "degree days," since 1997,
Harvest 2000 falls between 1997, with the most degree days, and 1998
and 1999 with considerably less degree days. (The number of degree-days
is calculated by determining a day's average Fahrenheit temperature
and subtracting 50 degrees during the April to October growing season.)
The grapes for this Napa Valley Chardonnay came from Napa
Valley's best Chardonnay 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 62% of the chardonnay
fermented in French oak barrels and the remainder in stainless steel
Since the grapes' natural acidities were slightly lower than the two
preceding vintages, the percentage of the Cakebread Cellars' 2000 Napa
Valley Chardonnay that underwent the softening effects of malolactic
fermentation was also correspondingly lower at 8% (versus 24% in the
1999 and 18% in the 1998.) (Malolactic fermentation takes tart malic
acid such as in apples and converts it to the softer lactic acid as
in milk.) 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.
Cakebread Cellars' 2000 Napa Valley Chardonnay has a light
straw color with a glint of gold. Its aromas are reminiscent of green
apples and the faint scent of apricots. There is also the clean scent
of mineral that some tasters would describe as being "flinty."
On the palate, the flavors closely resemble those of the aromas, but
with a very slight buttery finish as well as the subtle hint of vanillin
from the French 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.