2019 Chardonnay '304'
The Chardonnay 304 is a wine made in stainless steel vs French oak barrels. The grapes for this wine come from a vineyard in southern Sonoma County - the coldest part of the Carneros District. This vineyard produces grapes with a combination of low pH and high natural acidity - ideal for a Chablis-styled wine made without any oak contact. The vineyard is in the middle of an old creek bed that had been diverted 50 years ago so the ground was covered with rocks. Plus, it was planted to an heirloom Chardonnay selection, known as ‘Shot-Wente’. The vineyard is owned by Paul Larson, a third-generation grower in the area.
We adapted a system whereby the yeast lees from the fermenting wine were drawn out of the racking valve at the bottom of the steel tank, then slowly circulated over the top of the must using a rotating stainless steel shower head. The extra yeast lees contact resulted in additional flavor and stability and helped the lees settle compactly before the final racking.
We made our first wine using this technique in 2010 and called it Chardonnay ‘304’ after the name for the stainless steel fermentation tanks used in the wine industry. Stainless Steel Grade 304 is made from the addition of between 30 and 40% Nickle and Chromium, making it impervious to food acids. For us, it was simply a subtle way to indicate the absence of oak influence.
The finished wine undergoes a slight Malo-lactic fermentation and is lightly filtered at bottling. It has a refreshing natural crispness to it, along with a delicious citric element of lemon and lime. It finishes fresh and vibrant and is low in alcohol. It goes well with a wide variety of foods.