The boisterous bouquet invites you in with lively aromas of delicate Meyer lemon, orange blossom, fresh white peach and delicate honeysuckle, supported by more subtle notes of Tarte Tatin and brioche toast (a nod to the well-integrated French Oak). Fresh, vibrant and mouthwatering, the palate is crisp with layers of ripe Golden Delicious apple, guava and warm Asian pear, backed up by a luscious texture that is rich and balanced (hinting at the delicate batonnage lees stirring that occurs during the winemaking process). Well-integrated notes of vanilla, allspice and crème brûlée lead to a lengthy finish that is full and bright. Maintaining a core of fresh acidity, this Chardonnay is graceful and elegant, full of depth and complexity.
The 2020 season will be remembered for factors beyond the typical harvest season. It was a warm, dry winter and the rain and cooler weather didn’t arrive until the end of March. While the mild spring season was a great early start, our winery working conditions had extensive safety protocols due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Summer brought very cool mornings and very warm days, but then harvest was interrupted by wildfires across California, which came as grapes started to be picked, and we were very fortunate that none of our vineyards were in the areas of the active fires. The white wine harvest started in late August, with the wines showing excellent development in the cellars, reflecting the fine vintage year. While the red wine harvest was smaller yielding, proving to be one of the most challenging in history, our winemakers remained optimistic and very complimentary of the high quality achieved from this unprecedented vintage. The resulting 2020 wines are of very high quality with concentrated flavors and excellent acidity, especially for varieties like Chardonnay.
The grapes for our Napa Valley Chardonnay were sourced from the cooler southern appellations within Napa Valley, where fog from the San Pablo Bay helps to cool the vineyards throughout the growing season, allowing for ideal preservation of freshness and acidity. The majority of the fruit comes from the Carneros AVA which provides citrus, mineral, and crisp apple notes, with a smaller percentage coming from the Oak Knoll AVA, which contributes more tropical and stone fruit characteristics. These vineyards consistently produce Chardonnay ideal for our style of winemaking with fresh fruit flavors and bright acidity and vibrancy.
Our Napa Valley Chardonnay is gently whole-cluster pressed, in order to preserve the fresh aromatics naturally occurring in the fruit. Twenty-five percent of the wine is fermented in stainless steel and remains in tank until the final blend is assembled, Twenty-five percent of the wine is fermented and aged in new French oak barrels, and the remaining fifty percent in seasoned French oak. This specific barrel treatment helps preserve the essential purity of the fruit while adding subtle notes of oak complexity. The 2020 vintage, as usual, did not undergo malolactic fermentation, which helps to further maintain the fruit’s natural acidity, terroir expression and aromatic freshness. The wine was bottled after just seven months of maturation with a weekly batonnage, putting the yeast lees in suspension to increase the mouthfeel, and prevent reductive aromas.
For Christophe Paubert, Winemaker and General Manager at Stags’ Leap Winery, the identity of a wine is found through the terroir. Christophe’s career has spanned the industry from sales to winemaking, and his impressive background includes positions at Chateau d’Yquem and Gruaud-Larose as well as projects in Chile, Spain and Washington State. But it was the terroir of Stags’ Leap that drew him to California.
|Oak Treatment||Fermented and aged in 25% stainless steel, 25% new oak and 50% neutral oak barrels for 7 months|