Tag Archives: Chardonnay

Harvest 2011 – Week 7 – The Waiting Game

This past week brought cooler temperatures to the regions around Asti Winery.  We saw a noticeable slowdown in sugar accumulation and thus a drop in tons being delivered as growers waited to see movement again.  This week is forecasted to be warmer and hopefully this will kick ripening back into gear.  Chardonnay is coming in more rapidly now and the Pinot Gris is tapering off pointing to the second phase of the harvest during which we use oak during fermentations and the tank planning needs to be more long term rather than a few weeks as wines go through Malolactic conversion and stay on lees.


The crop is still short as estimates are falling short of what is actually on the vines.  I hesitate to throw out numbers but let’s just say we’re removing trucks more than we’re adding them. It seems to be a state-wide trend. 


So we’re waiting…


Waiting to see how the season will go.

Waiting to see how the remaining crop estimates will stack up.

Waiting to see what the quality will be on the high end reds. 

Waiting to see if the weather and tank space will hold out.


I haven’t been out in the North Coast vineyards very much for reds yet this year.  I’ve been busy with whites so far.  We’ve had a fewLodired varieties come in so I’m sure the North Coast reds varieties are working there way towards ripeness but this will not be one of those years where the Cabernet will reach 26 Brix. California may have to content itself with some lower alcohols for this vintage as it did last year. This is an exciting prospect for me but not everyone shares my sentiment.  Only time will tell for sure however.

Harvest 2011 – Week 5 – Things REALLY get moving…

This week we’ve started seeing far more grapes than the previous week.  Our Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc were joined by our first Chardonnay of the season!  Fruit quality looks really nice and acids are still staying put thanks to the more moderate day time temperatures as well as the cool nights.  The Alexander Valley reds are showing signs of the same incredible color that 2010 brought us and we should start seeing Lodi Cabernet and Merlot being harvested over the next two weeks.  For Asti it seems after a crazy end to last week, Week 6 will come in like a lion and go out like a lamb as we enter the first slump of the season.  This will give us a chance to catch our breath and take stock of how things are going.  The weather for week 6, however is forecasted to be a good deal warmer than week 5 with several days topping out around 100 degrees!  Hopefully they won’t go much above that so we can avoid the September heat spike that we saw last year. 


I’m playing with the first Alexander Valley fruit from this season which is a Gewurztraminer from a vineyard in Geyserville which was harvested last Wednesday.  It’s packed with flavor and did retain some acid which is fantastic for the variety that is famous for losing acid like a woman loses last season’s out of style shoes.  I’ve set it up for a long, cool fermentation so the yeast can form the beautiful terpene compounds that make up the fruit and spice notes in the final wine.  I’m also playing with some Pinot Gris from Lodi with a couple of different yeast strains so that should be interesting to see how it goes.


As promised here is the red variety group from Week 4’s interesting varietal tasting!


Latitude 50 N Sekt Trocken Rose  Germany  $14.99

Light and Bubbly

With amazing aromas of strawberries and cotton candy this wine offered fantastic quality for the price.  A medium- dry style balanced with crisp acid and intense citrus flavors.  It’s a blend of Portugeser, Dornfelder, and Pinot Noir.  A perfect bubbly for everyday drinking at a great price, all of us decided to go in on a case!


Studert- Prum Wehlener Nonnenberg 2008 Dornfelder  Germany ~$25.00

Elegant and Floral

I have a soft spot for this variety because it’s one of the first reds I ever worked with in Pennsylvania, of all places.  However this also showed to be the hardest variety to find in the tasting. It’s known for intense aromas of Strawberries and cherries and this wine did not disappoint.  It was dry with moderate acid, medium alcohol and smooth tannins.  It’s worth the search as this was one of the best Dornfelders that I’ve ever had!


E. Pira Chiara Boschis Dolcetto d’Alba 2009 Italy    $19.99    

Elegant and Floral

This variety makes a light and easy to drink red which is perfect for lighter fare.  Moderate aromas of cherries, bramble fruits, red plum, and figs introduce the wine which has a dry palate with medium + acid and moderate alcohol.  The tannins are firm and structured but ripe.  This is a great food wine. 

Umathum 2008 Zweigelt Burgenland Austria    $16.99

Spicy and Smoky

This was a dark brooding wine with smoky gamey notes complemented by black cherry and plum.  The palate is dry with medium + acid, moderate alcohol and strong structured tannins.  Zweigelt may be a good alternative to Merlot or Syrah for those seeking something different.  This one was really nice.


Montebuena Rioja 2009   $9.99

Power Punch

Made with 100% Tempranillo this wine is true to form with aromas of cherries, raisins, lemon zest and vanilla.  The palate is dry with medium acid, moderately high alcohol, and strong, textured tannins.  Right now Spain is offering some great value for the money.  Anywhere else this would easily be an $18-20 quality wine.


Quinta das Maias Tinto 2004 Dao   $11.99

Power Punch

Another value to be had currently is dry reds made from Port varieties.  This wine is a blend of 60% Jaen, 25% Touriga Nacional, 10% Alfrocheiro and 5% Tinta Roriz.  The nose is intense with aromas of coconut, almonds, vanilla, and cherries.  American oak is clearly a favorite with this producer.  The palate is dry with moderate acid, medium + alcohol, and a full body filled with flavors of cherries, dried dates and raisins.

An Awesome Chablis Tasting…

One of the highlights of this week was a Chablis tasting that some of the winemaker’s and I did.  I personally LOVE Chablis because it is a great pure expression of what the Chardonnay grape can be without the oak and butter that is so prevalent in more modern styles.  Anytime I can taste the fruit I’m excited!  Here’s the run down!

Domaine William Fevre Chablis 2008

Stone and Chalk

Pale lemon core with moderately low intensity aromas of chalk, citrus, and flint.  Dry palate with high searing acid and moderate alcohol.  Low skin tannins with moderately intense flavors of lees, light toast, citrus, and wet chalk.  Moderate finish.

For $ 24.99 not a bad bottle of wine.  Crisp and refreshing.

Domaine William Fevre “Monteé de Tonnerre”Chablis Priemier Cru 2008

Stone and Chalk

Medium low intensity lemon core with moderately intense aromas of citrus, wet chalk, kiwis, and light white flowers.  The palate is dry with high acid, moderate alcohol and low skin tannins.  Moderate flavors of wet chalk, lees, light white flowers, and citrus were highlighted by a long finish.

$49.99.  A really nice Chablis.  Very textbook classic.

Domaine William Fevre “Vaillons” Chablis Priemier Cru 2008

Stone and Chalk crossed with Zesty and Fruity

Medium low intensity lemon core with moderately intense aromas of ripe white peach, lemons and light floral notes.  The palate is dry with high acid and moderate alcohol.  Moderate flavors of white peach, apricot, wet chalk, flint, and light floral notes were highlighted by a long finish.

$44.99.  More ripe style than classic Chablis but very enjoyable.

Domaine William Fevre “Les Preuses” Chablis Grand Cru 2008

Stone and Chalk

Medium intenseity lemon core with moderately high intensity aromas of flint, white peach, lemons, chalk, honeydew melon, and wet stone.  The palate is dry with high acid and moderate alcohol with a touch of low skin tannin texture on the back of the finish.  Moderately intense flavors of wet stone, honeysuckle, lees toast, and flint notes with a long finish.

$79.99.  A fantastic Chablis.  Classic and fresh which would be great for a special occasion or to age for several years.

Domaine Bernard Defaix “Vaillons” Priemier Cru Chablis 2007

Stone and Chalk

Medium lemon core with moderately intense aromas of lees toast, wet stone, chalk and citrus.  The palate is dry with high acid, moderate alcohol and low skin tannins with moderately high intensity flavors of honey, wet stone, lanolin, and lees toast with a long finish.

$26.99.  This was a nice wine but it was the least liked of the flights as it seemed a bit older than it should have showing aged notes of honey and Lanolin.  I hope it is a bottle variation issue.

Domaine Louis Moreau “Les Clos” Grand Cru Chablis 2007

Stone and Chalk

Medium – intensity gold core with moderate aromas of dried honeycomb, meyer lemons, wet stone, and gunflint.  A dry palate accented by high acid, moderate alcohol, and low skin tannins. The flavors were moderately high intensity with flavors of dried lemons, honeycombs, wet stone, and gunflint with a light floral overtone and a long finish.

$46.99.  Excellent Quality Chablis with really nice intensity and complexity of flavors.

Jean-Marc Brocard “Les Clos” Grand Cru Chablis 1992

Stone and Chalk leaning towards Elegant and Floral

Medium + intensity gold core with Moderately high intensity aromas of dried white tea leaves, honeycomb, lanolin, dried lemons, and wet stone.  The palate is dry with high acid, medium alcohol, and low tannins with high intensity flavors of dried peaches, tea leaves, lanolin, dried lemons, wet river rock, light cardamom, and nutmeg with a long finish.

A steal at $39.95.  Fantastic wine with very intense characters.  Drink now.  This wine, if you can find it, is a great example of an aged Chablis and one that I’d love to find again.

This was truly a wonderful experience and one that really demonstrated the different quality levels of Chablis (even though we were unable to find a Petit Chablis).  It was also a great conversation starter with many of the different flavors being discussed by all involved.