Fall Release: 2012 Heron Lake Chardonnay, 2013 Chardonnay on Skins & 2012 Haynes Syrah

We thought last year was an early harvest . . and then this year it came on even earlier. In fact, this year was a record setter and I am writing to you not just before the storm hits, as I usually do, but because the storm is almost over. All of our 2014 grapes have been picked, and all but 1 fermentation is already safely resting in barrels.

This harvest we added several new exciting wines that we can’t wait to share. We made two new Chardonnays, one from the Haynes vineyard, which is quite simply stunning in barrel, and the other from an old vine, own-rooted vineyard up in the Sierras on the road to Yosemite. We also brought on board a little parcel of Pinot Noir planted on the most mouthwatering chunky limestone soils we have seen anywhere in California, and a small block of Tempranillo planted on slate and marble that we just couldn’t keep our hands off.

Its all part of the vision of having fun and exploring the possibilities of terroir in California, and trying to make some elegant and beautiful wines along the way. Thus, without further ado, though admittedly a bit tardy, we get ready to make our fall wines available.

*Introducing Orange Wine: We are not only introducing a new wine this fall, but for some of you it will be a style of wine you have never before tasted. Most white wine is made from pressing white grapes prior to fermentation and fermenting the juice on its own. Our “Chardonnay on skins” is a wine made from white Chardonnay grapes, but it is fermented on the skins like a red wine, leaving it with an “orange” color. Think white wine flavors, but with the texture and structure of a red wine. 

 


 

THE WINES

2012 Haynes Syrah $45 – Coombsville, Napa Valley

120 Cases Produced 12.9% Alc. 100% Whole Cluster
The old and noble Haynes Vineyard, located in the bowl of Coombsville where everything is just right for gently ripening grapes. Softer, juicier, more subtle and less herbal than the 2011, the 2012 Haynes presents a more classical profile of fruit and minerality and is our most elegant Syrah to date.

Notes: The nose leads with grapefruit pith, strawberry and slate, stepping into sweet red plum and rhubarb on the palate, with layered notes of coffee, anise, sage and black olive. The finish is soft, yet lingers with fine volcanic tannins and mouth watering acidity.

Aging: While soft and juicy enough to enjoy now, this wine is still very tightly wound and if drinking within the next 6 months we do recommend decanting or opening the bottle at least an hour ahead of time. Can comfortably age for 5-10 years minimum, and probably much longer.

 


2012 Heron Lake Chardonnay $36 – Wild Horse Valley
100 Cases Produced 13.1% Alc.
From its rocky outpost in Wild Horse Valley, high above the city of Napa, Heron Lake Vnyd sits unique and alone, catching the breezes off San Pablo bay. Picked a little earlier than in 2011, I feel we are getting closer to where this wine wants to be. The 2012 Heron Lake still displays a daring combination of brightness and acidity alongside deep golden texture and the vineyard’s trademark quartz minerality.

Notes: Opening with yellow flowers and lemon curd, the nose then dips into salted caramel and white quartz. The wine is pithy and zesty on the palate, with a hint of honeydew and a more subtle stony minerality on the finish. The wine is unfined and unfiltered and there may be sediment in the bottle.

Aging: This wine is definitely approachable now, even without a decant, but there is an underlying tension present through both the nose and the palate that suggests some real aging potential. For now we’ll say drink within 5-8 years.

 


2013 Heron Lake “Chardonnay on Skins”  $36 – Wild Horse Valley
75 Cases Produced 13.3% Alc. 100% Skin Fermented
About 10 days after we picked Heron Lake in 2013 I got a call from the grower. He said there was still a small amount of grapes left, so I went out to take a look. The grapes that remained were from the highest part of the vineyard, up on a rocky knoll where the vines struggle and the clusters were tiny, translucent, and golden. As soon as I saw them I knew what had to be done. Enfield was going to make our first skin fermented “orange wine.”

(SF Chronicle Article on Orange Wines)

(NY Times Article on Orange Wines)

Notes: An exotic nose bursts with white tea, jasmine and orange marmalade.The palate has a coating mouthfeel like red wine, with flavors of ripe melon, apricot, and orange peel, with a whisper of dill and rose petal leading to a lingering mineral finish and a touch of tannin.

Aging: We have no frame of reference for how this wine will age, but it is drinking deliciously right now.

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