2017 Chardonnay 'El Novillero Vineyard'
This magnificent Carneros District vineyard is owned by siblings Bruce, Nancy and Sandy Donnell, and was developed 30 years ago in partnership with the Sangiacomo Family. We began to buy the fruit from the vineyard in 1992, and along with our then consulting winemaker Helen Turley, soon recognized that the grapes gave us an opportunity to produce a single vineyard bottling that represented a great step forward in California winemaking. The vineyard is on a southeast facing slope at the western limit of the Carneros AVA. It sits at about 250 meters in elevation. Cool breezes and fog from the San Francisco Bay are part of the daily weather pattern during the growing season, and the soil is a mix of clay with pebbly basalt. Together they trap the warmth and allow for adequate drainage.
The 2017 vintage in the southern Carneros District saw adequate moisture during the rainy season, plenty of sunshine during the ripening process, and cool, even weather during the harvest. These conditions combined to give us a near-perfect growing season, and the finished wine is lovely. It already shows the typical butterscotch aroma associated with this vineyard, and while it’s rich and texturally fine, it displays an attractive softness, with a combination of flavors that are crisp and fresh. The distinctive mineral finish makes it easy to down another glass. The crop was small in 2017, and we bottled less than 70 cases.