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.
As drought conditions continue in 2022, it’s hard to believe that 2019 began with ample winter rainfall resulting in happy vines! Spring conditions allowed uniform fruit set, and summer saw few extremes with moderate temperatures throughout the growing season. Harvest began in a more normal timeframe, and without extreme weather we were able to harvest our grapes when precisely ripe. There is amazing consistency in 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.
The 2019 displays a hint of gold to welcome an array of aromas—apricot, toasted hazelnut, baked apple/caramel, as well as a floral component. The expansive flavors begin with ginger and apple. A butter note coats the palate but is quickly reined in by the acid structure and sustains a long and lingering finish. This is Chardonnay as it should be—not heavy, sweet, or ponderous, but lively and refreshing.
Forward, yet delicate, intriguing and inviting. Chardonnay captivates me!