Monday, January 9, 2017

Chardonnay Under The Sequoias

It's a story we never tire of, isn't it? Family turns 110-year-old Napa Valley barn into a winery, now they're working on their fourth decade as winemakers. Sequoia Grove's 24-acre Estate Vineyard and 50-acre Tonella Ranch Vineyard are both located in Rutherford, in the heart of the Napa Valley. They boast of their terroir, "the superb climate and gravelly-loam soils impart distinct flavor in the Bordeaux varieties."

Company president Michael Trujillo knows the lay of the land, a knowledge that comes with 30-something years of experience. Winemaker Molly Hill is a simple girl - she just wants to make great wine. "Balance to me means nothing stands out—not alcohol, not tannin, not acid, nor fruit nor barrel."

The Chardonnay grapes for this wine come "mostly from Dijon and Wente clones grown in the renowned, cool-climate Carneros District in Napa Valley." Growers like the Haire vineyard, the Ghisletta vineyard, and the Cunat vineyard in Oak Knoll contributed fruit.

The grapes were whole-cluster pressed for full flavor and wonderful acidity. There was no malolactic fermentation allowed, but the wine took on a creamy feel from sitting on the lees, the spent yeast cells, while in the barrel for ten months. Thirty percent of the oak used was new French. Alcohol hits 14.1% abv and it retails for just under 30 bucks.

Sequoia Grove Chardonnay gives a green-gold hue in the glass. It's almost glowing. The nose hit me like a good ol' California Chard, big and oaky, but full of tropical fruit, too. Pineapple, guava, lemon, lime, tangerine - there's a little bit of it all. The wine is barrel fermented, as well as aged in French oak. It has a very full mouthfeel, but the acidity is quite fresh, too. The oak plays prominently on the palate and is abetted by lemony minerality and the flavor of white peaches. Oak stays through a rather lengthy finish, like an old friend who just had another hour open up in the schedule. No need to leave just yet.