2016 Chardonnay 'Carneros District'
Our Carneros District Chardonnay comes from “Shot-Wente selection” grapes grown on three vineyards: the Jim and Del Yamakawa Ranch on Watmaugh Road; the Sangiacomo Family Green Acres Vineyard parcel on Hwy. 121 planted in 1994; the Donnell sisters El Novillero Vineyard at the intersection of Highways 121 and 116, in the hills at the western-most boundary of the Carneros AVA. All three vineyards are in the cool-weather area of Carneros, close to the San Francisco Bay, so ripening is slow and natural fruit acidity is high, making for a wine both fresh and long-lived.
“Shot-Wente” is an heirloom Chardonnay selection. It developed naturally in the Wente Brothers Livermore Valley vine nursery in the early 1930’s. The clusters are smaller than normal for Chardonnay—as are the individual grapes—giving them increased skin surface relative to the juice. That enhanced ratio makes the wine especially flavorful, so despite the small yields the selection was popular with California winemakers in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. It is now making a comeback in popularity, as it has shown a resistance to several new diseases that afflict vines that were developed through clonal breeding.
The grapes are whole-cluster pressed, and fermentation was carried out in a mixture of new and used French oak barrels, using native, wild yeast, and periodic lees stirring. Malolactic fermentation also occurs naturally, without the addition of an artificial starter. The additional contact with the yeast lees after barrel fermentation results in a lovely aroma that the French call “Noisette” after the hazelnut character it resembles. The wine is smooth and luscious, and is enormously attractive, especially in its youth.
Origin: Sonoma Carneros Vineyard: Yamakawa, Sangiacomo and El Novillero Vineyards
Barrel Program: 25% new French oak, 75% used French oak
Composition: 100% Chardonnay