2002 Napa Valley Chardonnay

The 2002 vintage offered up a few challenges: a lack of spring rain and excessive heat during the ripening period, to mention two. But if you made the right decisions in the vineyard and the cellar, this year offered the chance to make some great wines. Luckily, we’ve been at this for over 30 years and have learned a thing or two in that time. The result? Our 2002 Chardonnay is a blockbuster.

Warm weather in February and March led to an early bud break. The growing season returned to a normal timeline after cool weather in June and July. This allowed the crop to ripen slowly, resulting in complex flavor development. Hand-picking our Chardonnay at night paid off big-time in 2002 given the risk of having to pick during the extremely high daytime temperatures, and it gave us very high-quality juice.

We have installed some new winemaking equipment over the past few years designed specifically for gentler fruit handling, including a new shaker-sorter table added in 2002. This table allows us to feed the Chardonnay bunches into our press more delicately than our previous system allowed, with much less stem and skin breakage. All of our new processing methods combine to give us cleaner juice with fewer solids, yielding a purer expression of the Chardonnay grape, a hallmark of the Montelena style.

vintage weather

Cool Variable. Rainfall was right at average for the season, but most came in November-December. A challenging vintage with a generally cool growing season, lack of spring rain and excessive heat at harvest. Vine stress and very small berry size led to a very low yield crop, especially in Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines are concentrated with good flavor and balance.

tasting notes

In the glass the wine boasts a bright yellow-gold color. The aroma at first shows very spicy Chardonnay varietal character, then reveals notes of lime peel, green apple, and mineral, all in a bright, refreshing style. The palate follows the aroma very nicely with flavors of fresh lime, apple, kiwi, and spice. The texture is full, but still soft and round. The finish has excellent length and displays even more apple flavors. This wine is delicious to enjoy today, and also offers the potential for several further years of evolution.

Harvest Date September 6 to September 30
Sugar At Harvest 22.6º to 24.4º brix
Barrel Aging 6 to 8 months
Bottling Date August 2003
Release Date Fall 2004
Cases Produced 7,900
Alcohol 13.9%