Some Chardonnays get your attention with butter and oak but it is the perceptible fruit in this bottling that makes you do a double take and take another sip. We wish we could replicate the juicy apple-pear essence every year. The yields were especially low in 2008; our vineyards averaged only 1.8 tons per acre. The weather was nippy during harvest allowing the fruit to develop full flavors without excess sugars by ripening very slowly. The clusters were especially cold when we harvested and destemmed the fruit. The largest block escaped the frost and the grapes had balanced acidity when we harvested so a secondary malolactic (ML) fermentation to reduce acidity was ruled out.
Our largest lot of Chardonnay had balanced acidity when the grapes were harvested. This eliminated the need for a secondary malolactic fermentation which reduces a wine's apparent acidity. We decided to age the lot in seasoned oak ovals, on the yeast , for seven months. Aging on the lees adds roundness to the mouth and a hint of freshly baked bread without reducing the deliciously crisp Chardonnay fruit.
Mark Turula planted the Chardonnay vines at neighboring Valley Foothills Vineyard in 1975 and 33 years later, the wine from these old vines represents the largest lot in this 2008 bottling. Mark retired after the 2009 harvest and we shall miss him.
We've experienced all these conditions before, but we think the rich fruity tone is mostly due to the predominance of the lot made from old vines without ML which constitutes 2/3's of the blend. The wine was aged sur lie in ovals and puncheons; the oak flavors are restrained relative to the fruit zest but the round mouthfeel from aging on the yeast lingers. The remaining third was from three small blocks planted to the early ripening Dijon clones; these grapes were barrel fermented and underwent malolactic fermentation as we do for our Première Reserve bottling. The aromas are bright suggesting white spring flowers. The grape flavors are green apple and pear with just a hint of butter from the secondary fermentation. The roundness from aging sur lie in oak casks is adorned with an intriguing garnish of candied kumquats. Gold Medal winner.