1998 Napa Valley Chardonnay

The 1998 vintage was saved by a miracle month of October, the last month of our harvest. Very cold rainy weather throughout the early to middle growing season set up a late harvest. We had virtually no spring; it just went from winter to summer, but not until July! Happily it ended up very well, even great, with miraculous weather all of October.

The Chardonnay ripened very slowly this year and we had the luxury of avoiding high sugar and resulting high alcohol wine. Thus flavors, pH, sugar and acid were all considerable picking decision factors. In the end, the late harvest and cooler vintage lowered the overall ripe fruit intensity, characterized by peach and pear flavors, and highlights the crisp green apple flavor of Chardonnay. Structure and more intense, almost Riesling like, spicy and pungent fruit character define the wine.

vintage weather

Cool. Well above average rainfall, cold and rainy throughout the early to middle growing season. Warm and dry July and August, cool September and wonderful ripening weather in October. Average crop size, great flavors and ripeness, extremely well balanced.

tasting notes

It has our typical bright green-gold color, obviously not heavily oaked or malolactic styled. The nose is dominated by intense green apple; it is spicier than most vintages, which we attribute to the lack of heat during the growing season. The palate follows the fruit aroma with the green apple and some melon flavors, but it's quite crisp and that is directly attributed to the cool vintage. The overall texture is very crisp and clean. At this stage our little amounts of new oak and cellar complexes are very much in the background. Although we don't feel this vintage is a real "ager", we do think it will continue to benefit from another year or two in the bottle. This is a strong, bright, intense chardonnay and will be best with traditional fish preparations and with some spicier dishes like paella, and perhaps gingery Pacific Rim cuisine.

Harvest Date September 25 to October 14
Sugar At Harvest 22.6° to 23.5° brix
Barrel Aging 6 to 8 months
Bottling Date August 1999
Release Date September 2000
Cases Produced 9,000
Alcohol 13%