Although the majority of grapes in the Première Reserve
and this Mendocino
bottling were grown in the same vineyards—albeit in separate blocks—the wines are notably different. We fashion our Reserve
Chardonnay in the same manner as in Burgundy with primary and malolactic fermentations in a mixture of new and seasoned barrels; the vineyard fruit flavors are enveloped with winemaking and barrel flavors. This Mendocino
bottling has less emphasis on the winemaking and more on the fruit from the vineyard. We broaden the pear-citrus profile of Anderson Valley Chardonnay by blending in 20% Potter Valley and 20% Arroyo Seco Chardonnay which add enticing apple and herbal elements. Most of the wine in this Mendocino
bottling was cool-fermented in stainless steel without a secondary malolactic fermentation, maximizing the retention of fruit-based flavors. This was followed by aging solely in seasoned barrels, avoiding the stronger oak flavors that new barrels would impart. The grapes were harvested with bright acidity so the wine is crisp and fruit-driven with subtle oak flavors and modest alcohol; it definitely slides down easily. Double Gold
and Best of California Medal-winner. 99 points.
Manuel topping barrels of Chardonnay. We age Chardonnay about nine months in barrel. There is evaporation loss during barrel aging, so once a month we replace the air space with wine from smaller casks, thus reducing any potential oxidation.