[Tasting Notes] Our Bench Chardonnay shows more purity and elegance than our classic Estate offering. Opening with abundant aromatics of cream soda, anjou pears and baked pie crust, the wine is bright and fresh on the palate with flavors of lemon and vanilla custard. The focused acidity and intriguing minerality make this a particularly elegant and age-worthy offering.
[History] The maritime environment of the Carneros grape-growing region delivers cool, foggy mornings followed by warm days that slowly nurture ripening. This seaside influence is particularly acute at our Poseidon Vineyard; one can see the masts of boats bobbing in the water just a few steps to the south. The prominent feature of our vineyard is the gravelly, geological “Bench”—the elevated, rocky, former riverbank of the Carneros Creek—that runs serpentine through the center of the site. From this unique geological feature spring some of our most distinct, small-production wines.
[Vintage] The growing season in 2012 was long and relatively cool. Harvest was one of the latest on record, beginning in late September and lasting through mid- October. Extended hang–time allowed for ripe flavors to develop without compromising natural acidity, keeping the youthful flavors of the wine fresh and intact. The elevated geography of “the Bench” on the vineyard allows for quicker draining soils which aids in achieving ripeness in cooler years like 2012.
[Winemaking] The fruit was pressed whole cluster in small batches and barrel fermented in a cold cellar. There were eight barrels selected for this wine from all of our lots across “the Bench.” Only those barrels that showed a similar thread of focused flavor and intensity were chosen. Compared to our typical estate Chardonnay, this offering has a higher percentage of new, “medium plus” and “heavy” toast barrels, and some, prior to coopering, were specially seasoned (36 months total) in the cooperage yard. Lees stirring after malolactic fermentation was employed to boost the smooth, elegant texture.