Etude’s Heirloom Chardonnay, produced from heirloom selections of the variety, is dedicated to the celebration and preservation of plant diversity. Heirloom plants are horticultural treasures that have been handed down from generation to generation for centuries. Similar to its counterpart, Etude’s Heirloom Pinot Noir, this Chardonnay exemplifies the singular, superior wines – unusually expressive, concentrated and pure – that issue from original varieties or vine selections chosen for the inherent wine quality they produce. Winemaker Jon Priest has always admired the Chardonnay from the Heirloom selections for its elegance, balance and minerality, and this small bottling highlights these unique selections.
Source: Etude Estate Vineyards at Grace Benoist Ranch, Carneros, Napa Valley
Varietal Composition: 100% Chardonnay
Vinification: 100% French oak barrels (20% new) for 16 months
"Etude's 2014 Chardonnay Heirloom Estate emerges from a single block on the estate. Light buttery notes, citrus, white flowers, mint and almonds are some of the signatures. A touch of new oak and malolactic fermentation for most of the lots and extended time on the lees result in a nicely textured, expressive Chardonnay." - Antonio Galloni, January 2017
Elegant, balanced and restrained, our 2014 Heirloom Chardonnay exhibits aromas of Meyer lemon, golden apple, and toasted almonds. The fruit remains persistent throughout and is powerful in its freshness Lees stirring during maturation in barrel produced a wonderful beeswax texture on the palate. Upon release, this wine is just beginning to give off its breadth of flavors.
Planted during the initial development of the Grace Benoist Ranch in 2000, the grapes for our Heirloom Chardonnay come from shy-bearing selections that produce small bunches and even smaller berries. Extremely low yields are typical of these unique vines, but the resulting wines are both expressive of their origins and the unique and varied site on which they’re grown. The Chardonnay vineyards at Grace Benoist Ranch have deep, well-drained loamy soils, ideal for growing this cool climate varietal.
Despite drought conditions, the 2014 vintage proved to be ideal, with excellent quality reminiscent of 2012. The winter was one of the driest on record in California, but substantial rains in early spring were timely and set up the vines for a strong start. Summer temperatures were milder than expected with no extremes, and after early bud break and veraison, harvest was unusually early in 2014.
The fruit for the Heirloom Chardonnay was harvested at night and gently whole-cluster pressed before being transferred to French oak barrels for fermentation. Traditional in approach, the wine was bottled after 16 months of maturation, with a weekly stirring of the yeast lees for the initial two months of aging to enhance aromatics and increase mouthful. This small lot Chardonnay was crafted to showcase the unique terroir at Grace Benoist Ranch. The wine underwent full natural and spontaneous primary fermentation and malolactic fermentation in order to diminish the winery intervention and highlight the natural acidity and beauty of the Chardonnay grape.