2016 Lavender Hill Vineyard Chardonnay
Our Lavender Hill Vineyard is one of the coolest sites in Napa Valley, seven acres in southern Carneros that are constantly buffeted by fog and breezes blowing off adjacent San Pablo Bay. The fruit for this wine comes from a hilly 3 ½ acre knoll, with well-spaced vines that produced extremely low yields of aromatic and concentrated fruit.
After hand sorting in the vineyard and again at the winery, the grapes for our Lavender Hill Chardonnay were whole cluster pressed to immediately separate the juice from the skins. Fifty percent of the juice was fermented in stainless steel tanks, while the remaining 50% fermented in large oak puncheons. We use puncheons because of their volume-to-size ratio; wines fermented in these oversized barrels have less contact with the oak, which creates a fresher, fruitier wine profile. After fermentation, the entire production – 130 cases – aged in small French oak barrels for seven months, with lees stirring every two weeks to suspend the yeast lees and release essential oils that add richness and viscosity.
The 2016 growing season began with an early bud break followed by warm weather and welcome spring rains. From bloom, to fruit set, to veraison and harvest, nature cooperated offering a classic weather pattern of foggy mornings, warm, sunny days and cool evenings and nights. Harvest began in mid-August and wrapped up by mid-October, just ahead of the valley’s first significant fall rainstorm.
Our 2016 Lavender Hill Chardonnay combines lovely notes of Granny Smith apple, ripe pear and tropical fruit with toasty oak and lees-driven flavors of graham cracker, coffee, vanilla and coconut. There’s a lovely balance between the wine’s bright acidity and creamy, round texture, and on the finish lingering flavors of hazelnut and cocoa add interest and complexity. This is a classic Carneros Chardonnay, typical of this cool growing region and possessing equal parts ripe fruit, smooth oak, creamy richness and vibrant acidity.