We've written about the gustatory advantages of aging wine sur lie
but we usually mention it with regards to Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Muscat and Pinot Gris, which we ferment and age in seasoned French oak ovals ranging in size from 250 to 1500 gallons. We also ferment our Première Reserve
Chardonnay in French oak, but in 60-gallon barrels. The first notable flavor difference in winemaking regimes between Chardonnay and the aromatic whites is that we minimize oak flavors in the latter, while encouraging toasty wood tones in Chardonnay by fermenting and aging in the smaller, newer barrels. We stir Chardonnay lees to encourage the wine to go through malolactic fermentation which softens the acidity and adds a creamy, buttery element; discouraging malolactic fermentation in the aromatic varieties helps to retain high acidity and highlight the varietal flavors.
We collect winter rainwater in ponds which we use to irrigate our vineyards and gardens in summer. We don't spray herbicides or insecticides and we've stocked this pond with fish making it an inviting habitat for wildfowl. The bass was caught and released during fishing lessons with younger family members. An array of birds is attracted to the ponds including eagles, herons, egrets, geese and ducks; some even nest on the shore.
About 60% of this bottling is from clone 76 grapes grown in our Hammer Olsen and Tasting Room blocks which produce wine with delightful citrus-pear aromas and flavors. The remaining portion is from clone 548; these vines always bear a light crop, less aromatic than 76, but the wines are impressively dense. There are spicy nut-like, toasty flavors from the newer oak barrels and a rounded mouthfeel with hints of butter from the secondary fermentation, all integrated with fruit flavors to produce our best Chardonnay. This is our smallest production of Première Reserve ever and we expect to sell out before summer. Gold Medal winner. Best of Class. 97 points.