Late Harvest Chardonnay
Carneros, Napa Valley
This wine will develop in the bottle for many years to come, and represents a once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity for us to make a classic-styled, Botrytis-affected, lush and rich dessert wine. Aromas of honeysuckle are met with rich, creamy notes of honey-pear, apricot nectar and ripe pear, rounded out with faint lemon undertones.
Vineyard & Vintage Notes
The 2006 season began with flooding over the New Years period, which made national news, but left dormant vines unaffected. Plentiful rain in the spring followed, leading to a slightly delayed budbreak, and the cool weather persisted right into early May, slowing the onset of flowering. A burst of warmth in the latter half of May and then into June was perfect for fruit-set and produced great uniformity of berry development. A moderate and dry summer was punctuated by a 10-day heat spike in late July, but as fall progressed, mild conditions prevailed. The harvest was approximately two weeks later than "average" and the consistency of weather during flowering and harvest gave chardonnay of great purity and depth.
In mid-October, when the majority of our Chardonnay had been harvested, we had a one-in twenty-year weather pattern of multiple patches of misty rain interspersed with cool dry weather. The classic weather for making Botrytis-affected dessert wines found in Sauternes, Germany and Alsace, we elected to leave one parcel of fruit hanging late into the season to capture this unique opportunity.
The dehydrated and incredibly concentrated berries were harvested in two parcels, averaging 38.5 degrees Brix. After a twelve-hour press cycle to extract the precious juice, we fermented two-thirds in new French oak and one third in neutral barrels, all with native yeasts. Fermentation ceased at 13.4% alcohol, leaving 17% residual sugar: a magic combination of lush fruit sweetness tempered and balanced with acidity and alcohol. The wine was then left to develop in the original barrels for 15 months without racking before bottling in the spring of 2008.