Stewart Vineyard in Carneros is the source of some of my finest grapes. The consistent quality that emerges each year is stunning. All the variables that influence grape quality—clone, soil, temperature, cultural practices, have combined to make it a unique and special property. When I was offered the first tiny crop of Chardonnay in 2009, I had no idea of the style of wine that would emerge, but given my experience with Stewart, I was optimistic. I was not let down!
I often pose the question—if it’s a special birthday or occasion and you have to grab a certain wine, what would it be? It would probably surprise many of you that my choice would most often be white Burgundy. Perhaps I am drawn to the elusiveness of great Chardonnay. When it realizes its potential, it offers unique flavors and aromas found in no other wine.
2018 was a fantastic growing season. Beautiful spring conditions followed abundant rainfall in the winter, resulting in even fruit set. We couldn’t have asked for more ideal summer and fall weather--moderate temperatures throughout. The only two things that put me slightly on edge during harvest is anticipating hot temperature spikes or rain. Neither occurred resulting in long hang time, beautiful and balanced fruit that we could pick at our leisure. Fascinating for me is the consistency of the Chardonnays I have produced from this vineyard—right grapes growing in the right area!
Grapes were whole-clustered pressed, settled overnight and then racked to barrel. We have moved toward “native” or wild yeast fermentation which we have found results in wines that capture more of those elusive qualities found in the Chardonnays from Burgundy. Complexity is always our mission! The wine aged sur-lie for 10 months.
Our 2018 displays a slight tinge of gold with mineral aromas—that wet-stone, gravel, non-fruity component—as well as apple, cardamom, vanilla, toasted hazelnut, basil, and a slight hint of orange peel. This is Chardonnay as it should be—not heavy, sweet, or ponderous, but lively and refreshing, a wine that dances on the palate. Lower in alcohol than most, it welcomes you back for another taste. It will age and continue on the toad toward complexity. More testament to the beauty of the 2018 vintage.
Enticing, elusive, and intriguing. What I love about wine!