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Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

I have a long history making Chardonnay. In fact, I have made it longer than any other wine, if you include the internships I did while still in college. So it was a little odd that for the first several years of my own brand there was no Chardonnay among my offerings.

In 2008 I decided I needed to acknowledge that part of my past and make a little bit of Chardonnay. In the 15 years since then, I have done a fair bit of experimenting in order to fine tune where I sourced the fruit and how I treated it once I got it into the winery. The road was a little circuitous, but the short version is that there is really only one guiding principal that drove my efforts--to find fruit and a methodology that resulted in fresher, more energetic wine that was true to the variety and not too stylized.

Solving the grape part of the equation was easy. I was already working with the Barlow Homestead vineyard, owned by Small Vines Wines, one of my clients. Located northwest of the town of Sebastopol, it makes wine of great precision and energy, which is exactly what I was looking for. Since 2017, I have worked exclusively with the Barlow Homestead Chardonnay. The winemaking part of the equation took a bit more experimentation, first with larger barrels, then concrete eggs, and ending up with a foudre. I have used the foudre for fermenting and aging my Chardonnay since the 2021 vintage and it seems, so far at least, to be the magic ingredient. In it, the wine gains texture, somewhat like it would in a smaller oak barrel, but it does not pick up any noticeable oak flavor (the foudre is 9 years old). And because the vessel is larger than a barrel (it holds 1000 liters, roughly 4 barrels worth of wine) the wine holds on to its energy better. In sum, the wine is both rich and lively, the best of both worlds!

I am only one of many who have gone down some version of this path, so am hardly a pioneer in all this. But I am mighty pleased with the results! 



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