ESTATE GROWN — Columbia Valley
• COMPOSITION: 100% Organically Grown Chardonnay – all grapes estate grown
• pH: 3.30
• TA: 0.57 g /100 mL
• ALCOHOL: 13.9%
• BOTTLED: August 2010
• PRODUCTION: 243 cases
The year’s unusual climate profile made for an interesting challenge in producing our first Certified Organically Grown Reserve Chardonnay. The cool Winter weather lasted a bit longer than normal, causing our Chardonnay buds to break about two weeks later than normal. While ensuring against frost damage to the fruit, we were concerned at the outset whether the grapes would ripen fully given the late start. Fortunately, the cool spring was followed by a hot summer, with record-breaking temperatures in July and August. This sped along the ripening process for a time, but as the heat continued, the vines began to shut down to conserve moisture, and proper ripening was once again a concern. Again to our good fortune, the September weather cooled rapidly, and the organically grown fruit recovered absolutely beautifully.
Every year we strive to make a Reserve Chardonnay full of finesse and elegance. This requires great attention to every detail during harvest. We are careful to harvest these Chardonnay grapes only at daybreak so as to ensure that they come inside the winery still cold from the night air. The fruit is then immediately pressed, but only on our very lightest press setting of 0.2 bar, to extract only the finest of the juices within. After 24 hours of cold settling, the juice is racked to brand new French and American oak barrels. During racking a majority of the juice solids are taken with the juice to increase complexity. The extra solids also help with the integration of wood and wine, preventing the oak from dominating the fruit. The oak can then play its proper role, supporting the wine and lifting the fruit characters to heights unattainable without the new barrels. Once the primary fermentation is complete we inoculate for the malolactic fermentation to round out the wine and increase mouth-feel. Post-inoculation, the wines are stirred on a weekly basis using the lees as a tool for additional structure. When the fermentation is complete, very small amounts of sulfur are added to protect the wine from oxidation. The stirring of the lees continues all the way up to the final barrel selection. Of the original 24 barrels of finished wine, we chose only 12 for the final cuvee.
Subtle notes of toasted oak mingle with aromas of roasted hazelnuts and pears. On the palate, cinnamon and cardamom mix playfully with flavors of lemon curd and vanilla bean. Bright acidity carries the wine through to a finish of white pepper and jasmine. This is an extremely well-structured wine that can hold its own with any entrees prepared with rich, butter-based sauces.