From six special acres in the heart of the Grace Benoist Ranch, our estate Chardonnay is iconic, representing all that is memorable about Carneros. Vibrant yet elegantly restrained, the wine is crafted as a showcase for the fruit, without malolactic fermentation and the lightest touch of oak. Aromas and flavors of pineapple, Granny Smith apple and Bartlett pear, Meyer lemon and a beautiful minerality are accompanied by lemon zest and citrus blossom. A solid backbone of acidity, with great structure and balance, are the signature of this wine each vintage.
A true reflection of Grace Benoist Ranch estate vineyard, this wine is a blend of the best blocks on the Ranch, tucked away in the far northwest corner of the Carneros appellation. Unlike most Carneros vineyards, which are largely uplifted bay bottoms with soils composed of clay, the soils of Grace Benoist Ranch are variations of volcanic origin. Combining these well-drained, rocky upland soils with the extreme western location closer to San Pablo Bay, makes this cooler site an ideal place to grow Burgundian varieties. Vineyard blocks are individually managed to conform to various soil types and the changing contours of the topography. Individual vineyards within Grace Benoist Ranch average only eight acres in size and spacing is dense to ensure low per vine yields of fully concentrated fruit. As stewards of the property, Etude remains steadfast in our commitment to adhere to sustainable agricultural practices that enable us to farm in concert with the surrounding environment. Wildlife corridors, raptor roosts and owl boxes are abundant throughout the Ranch.
Overall, 2017 proved to be a slightly smaller yielding vintage but one of exceptional quality. A brief period of warm weather occurred as September began, and we finished picking by September 2. Temperatures subsided just when we needed, and the fruit was allowed to mature and ripen perfectly on the vines. Overall, a quick and intense harvest, with the quality of the vintage showing great flavor intensity, perfect ripening and maturity, lovely balance and complexity.
The fruit for our Carneros Estate Chardonnay was harvested at night and gently whole-cluster pressed before being transferred to neutral French oak barrels for fermentation. The wine was bottled after 10 months of maturation, with a weekly stirring of the yeast lees for the initial two months of aging to enhance aromatics and increase mid-palate texture. Our Chardonnay is crafted to showcase the unique terroir of Grace Benoist Ranch and did not go through malolactic fermentation in order to capture the natural acidity and beauty of cool-climate Carneros Chardonnay.