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2011 Carneros Chardonnay

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About the Vineyard

Our Chardonnay owes it style, depth, and structure to intensely flavored, low yielding, heirloom clones growing in two Carneros vineyards: on the Napa side, the Toyon Farm and on the Sonoma side, the Sangiacomo family’s Vella Ranch. We hand-selected the cuttings ourselves, from older vineyards in the Carneros area. These cuttings are reputed to have origins tracing to Paul Masson who imported them from Burgundy in the early 1940’s, from none other than Louis Latour's renowned Corton Charlemagne vineyard. These selections are often referred to as “Old Wente” or “Robert Young,” denoting the sourced mother blocks in the 1960s.

About the Vintage

2011 began cool, with later bud break. Flowering and fruit set was disrupted by heavy and uncharacteristically late rain storms. This limited fruit production considerably resulting in significantly lower yields, sometimes as low as half of typical production. The summer remained cool--one of the coolest on record--pushing the harvest date back further into September. In the end, vineyard management and assiduous farming practices helped to insure that this well-situated vineyard ripened fully, yielding wines with bold aromatics and a soft, generous palate.

About the Wine

We aspire to guide our Chardonnay toward a layered, complex, and expressive style that develops gracefully in the bottle and shows enticing minerality, vivacious fruit, length and structure. For us, the watchword is balance. We pressed the grapes as whole clusters, settled and fermented entirely in French oak from four different coopers, chosen for their unique synergism and support of the fruit on the palate. Nearly half of the barrels were new. We used a variety of yeasts, including native strains, and fermentation proceeded evenly and slowly, averaging a cool 55°F. The wine was aged on its yeast lees, which were stirred weekly through the spring. 406 cases produced.

Tasting Notes

Announced by rich aromatics of melon, pear, and fig accented with Granny Smith apples and tangerine. Chalky, wet stone and graphite add nuance, topped with decadent creme brulee and brioche. Intense palate weight and luscious fruit tannins fill the mid-palate,finishing mouth-filling minerality. Citrus flavors are intermixed with peaches and cream and citron notes and just a hint of pineapple.  Cardamom, and toasty biscotti notes, liven the palate, leading into the finish which is long, layered, and complex.  The tannins, minerality, and acidity that are the calling card of well-raised, true Old Wente Chardonnay are in full display.