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2010 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...
2010 was a challenge to the nerves as well as a chance for experienced wine makers to strut their stuff.  In other words, those with experience were advantaged with the working knowledge of how best to manage their vineyards and to keep their fruit clean and healthy.  Heavy spring rains were followed by a summer season that was significantly cooler than average.  A mid-season heat spike, with temperatures suddenly topping 100, left a percentage of clusters burned up and dried out.  Our Chardonnay benefited from the coolness and was harvested before the early fall rains.  The fruit held tremendous acidity and shows off with bright fruit and a long, lingering mineral mouthfeel.

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.  526 cases produced.

Tasting Notes...
Announced by bold, powerful aromatics, with rich fruits, melon and fig accented with Granny Smith apples and Asian pear.  Chalky, wet stone and graphite add nuance, topped with decadent creme brulee and brioche.  Intense palate weight and luscious fruit tannins are countered by a full, zesty acidity that lifts and carries the fruit towards the finish, layering atop the mouth-filling minerality that carries throughout the entire finish.   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.  This is a wine to enjoy now, in its youth, however, its truest personality and complete depth will continue to unfold for several years to come.