Carneros Collines Vineyard Chardonnay

The French word collines means “hills,” and it aptly describes the Carneros landscape in the southern reaches of Napa Valley, where gentle rolling hills surround our estate vineyard. Deep, heavy clay loam soils, combined with the marine influences of the nearby San Pablo Bay and Pacific Ocean, give Chardonnay wines from this region a distinctive balance of fruit and acidity.

Carneros Collines Vineyard Chardonnay

The French word collines means “hills,” and it aptly describes the Carneros landscape in the southern reaches of Napa Valley, where gentle rolling hills surround our estate vineyard. Deep, heavy clay loam soils, combined with the marine influences of the nearby San Pablo Bay and Pacific Ocean, give Chardonnay wines from this region a distinctive balance of fruit and acidity.

VINEYARDS Our Collines Vineyard benefits from cool, foggy mornings and afternoon breezes from nearby San Pablo Bay. These conditions are ideal for growing Chardonnay and contribute to a slow and even rate of fruit maturity, leading to optimal balance of sugar and acid. This 38-acre vineyard is planted with devigorating rootstock and features a number of Dijon clones, including 76, 95, 96, and 548, which tend to yield high acidity.

HARVEST AND WINEMAKING Following several years of drought, February delivered much-needed rain to the vines. Budbreak occurred early in 2015 due to warmer than normal temperatures in late winter and early spring. Warm temperatures and abundant sunshine June through October led to good growth the rest of the season, an early harvest, and very high-quality, balanced fruit. Our Chardonnay was hand harvested at night, then quickly sorted and pressed in full cluster. The Collines Vineyard Chardonnay represents a distinct shift in our Chardonnay program. The grapes were allowed to ferment with native yeasts, which added layers of complexity. Post-fermentation, the wine was cooled to delay native malolactic fermentation until spring. Winemaker Michael Beaulac allows plenty of lees contact during aging and stirs routinely to enhance a creamy mouthfeel. The wine aged in French oak for a full year using 50 percent new barrels. Michael’s goal was to make a serious Chardonnay on par with Pine Ridge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignons.

TASTING NOTES  Deep gold color is evidence of one year in barrel. This single vineyard produces a structured and voluptuous Chardonnay with generous aromas of tropical fruit, lemon curd, honeysuckle, caramel, nutmeg, and brioche. Pretty aromas of white pear and a touch of minerality follow. The flavors are vibrant and layered with mango, toasted walnuts, lemon zest, white nectarine, and spice. A viscous mouthfeel and a long, lingering finish complete this opulent wine.

PAIRING Seafood is a natural pairing for Collines Vineyard Chardonnay, such as scallops in a creamy sauce, crab with drawn butter, or a traditional French-style fillet of sole. Also try chicken marsala, risotto with peas and asparagus, or creamy polenta with mushrooms. This richly styled Chardonnay with its toasty aroma finds an echo in aged Comté, a classic cheese from the Jura Mountains of France.