2015 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. A portion (70%) of the juice was fermented in small French oak barrels, a technique that allows the oak to fully integrate with the wine at an early stage. The remaining 30% was fermented and aged in concrete vessels. Concrete leaves no discernible flavor behind, but its surface holds microscopic pockets of oxygen which help preserve aromatics and broaden the mouthfeel. Over its eight month aging period the wine was stirred every two weeks to suspend the lees and release essential oils that add richness and viscosity. We also allowed the wine to undergo partial malolactic fermentation, balancing its bright fruit character with a rich, supple palate.
The 2015 vintage in Napa Valley will be remembered for high quality but low yields. The growing season began with warm temperatures in late winter and early spring resulting in an early bud break. In May, colder temperatures during bloom caused fruit set to be uneven, yielding a much smaller crop compared to earlier vintages. Winemakers and vineyard managers worked closely together as the season progressed to ensure grapes ripened uniformly. The harvest, which was in full swing by mid-August, was one of the earliest on record in Napa Valley, and most vintners completed picking by mid-October. Although the continuing drought was a concern around California, Napa Valley received 75% of its annual rainfall average in 2015 making it less worrisome for Napa vintners.
Our Lavender Hill Chardonnay shows beautiful ripe, up-front fruit, with layers of honey, vanilla, spice, pear and Granny Smith apple flavors. Its creamy texture brings to mind graham crackers and crème brulee, yet there’s a nice tension between the brightness of the fruit and the rich, toasty, oak- and lees-driven flavors. This is a terrifically-balanced wine with excellent depth of flavor and concentration and a long, lingering finish.
Varietal: 100% Chardonnay
Appellation: Napa Valley
Aging: 70% French oak barrels; 30% concrete vessels
Production: 185 cases
93 points, James Suckling
"Sliced apple and honey character on the nose with hints of cooked lemons. Full body, yet linear and tight with a lovely balance of fruit and butterscotch character. Classic Napa chard here. Drink now."
92 points, Jeb Dunnuck
"A terrific Chardonnay well worth seeking out is the 2015 Chardonnay Lavender Hill which was brought up in a mix of French oak and concrete tanks. It has beautiful notes of buttered lemons, white flowers, spice and a touch of stone fruits in its medium-bodied, rich, nicely textured style. With good acidity and solid balance, drink it over the coming 4-6 years."
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