The winter rains ended early in ’09, as if foretelling a long growing season with an early harvest. And indeed it was: a very warm summer and a September pick. This proved crucial as September’s warmth gave way to torrential rains in October – over 8 inches fell on the 13th. But by that time the wine was finishing its slow fermentation, well out of the inclement weather.
We initially ferment the Chardonnay in chilled tanks so we can control the yeast’s activity. Then after about two weeks it’s moved to French oak barrels, one-third new, to complete the fermenting – this takes up to three weeks. The wine is racked twice during the first winter, which we feel is critical in preserving the fresh, fruitiness of the wine; we don’t like buttery, sur lies flavors.
Our vineyard is planted with the old Wente clone of Chardonnay, which has always been known for its citrus qualities. In ’09 these are certainly there, but it feels richer than many recent vintages, with notes of green apple complementing the fullness. Price: $27/bottle; $292/case (includes 10% discount)
What we thought might be a difficult year – a cool spring, unseasonable rains – proved just the opposite, and we were able to pick intense, ripe fruit in excellent condition by late October. The grapes for our Cabernet blend, which includes Merlot and Cabernet Franc in small amounts, were fermented in small lots, and were punched down by hand six times a day, for 12 days. The grapes were then pressed gently in our traditional basket press, and aged for 18 months in ultra-tight-grain Bordeaux chateaux barrels (25% new). The wine was aged additional time in stainless before bottling.
This vintage continues a trend in our estate blend toward more intensity and fullness, which is attributable to our mature, dry-farmed vines planted on mountain soils yielding smaller crops (i.e., old age), as well as general climate change. Price: $27/bottle; $292/case (includes 10% discount)