The Reserve Chardonnay program is inspired by my internship at Domaine des Comtes Lafon in Meursault, Burgundy. I had been exposed to the science and technology of winemaking at UC Davis and through working in Napa. However, when I arrived at Lafon, “science and technology” were not readily apparent. And yet they make the best Chardonnay I’ve ever tasted. That was when I realized that winemaking is not just a science, it is also an art.
Our Reserve Chardonnay is not a selection of the best grapes, barrels, etc. but rather a different style.
We begin in the vineyard by planting a Burgundian-bred grape clone (Dijon 76) to produce our grapes. We inoculate the juice with two Burgundian yeast strains (Montrachet and CY3079). Then we use techniques that are typical of Burgundian Chardonnays that have been used for centuries. First we barrel-ferment the juice in new and one-year-old French oak barrels to give the wine a roasted nuts aroma and a richness on the palate.
After primary fermentation, the wine is moved to older barrels and undergoes malolactic fermentation like at Lafon. This traditional Burgundian technique converts the grapes’ natural malic acid to the softer lactic acid, adding richness and complexity to the wine. (Read more about malolactic fermentation.) The Reserve is then aged sur lies (on its sediment) in French barrels (less than 10% of which are new oak) in our wine caves for 15 months and stirred every two weeks to give the wine a creamy texture and a flinty aroma. It is aged in the bottle for an additional 14 months, giving the flavors time to marry and allow the wine to start developing bottle bouquet. We release the Reserve each year in April.
The Reserve is different from our main Chardonnay in that as it ages the mineral, flinty, creamy characters become more pronounced. The Reserve also has a slightly lower acidity to give the wine a smoother, creamy texture on the palate. The Reserve is released when it has 2½ years of age. To shop the Reserve Chardonnays, click here.