2018 Poseidon Vineyard “The Bench” Chardonnay
The Bench Chardonnay routinely strikes a balance between ripe fruit character with a subtle brush of oak and the bright, natural acidity that Chardonnay grown in a cool spot exhibits. The 2018 rendition captures this part of our vineyard perfectly, with aromas of apples and lemon and a touch of tropical star fruit. In the mouth, the texture is zippy, with a balanced, bright acidity and flavors that reflect the aromatics plus a touch of spice: star anise and cinnamon. Medium-long length leads to a clean finish.
The maritime environment of the Carneros grape-growing region delivers cool, foggy mornings followed by warm days that slowly nurture ripening. This seaside influence is particularly acute at our Poseidon Vineyard; one can see the masts of boats bobbing in the water just a few steps to the south. The prominent feature of our vineyard is the gravelly, geological “Bench”—the elevated, rocky, former riverbank of Carneros Creek—that runs serpentine through the center of the site. From this unique geological feature spring some of our most distinct, small-production wines.
As the impact of the 2011-2017 drought continued to fade, the growing season was characterized by moderate temperatures. Fruit development was gradual, without stress, and uniform. But as harvest got underway, temperatures varied dramatically, creating a nerve-wracking stop-start, wait-versus-race dynamic for the crews and cellar. Attention and experience in the vineyard proved critical during this stretch. While wildfires created havoc in other parts of the state, the Poseidon Vineyard was entirely unaffected. The harvest was one of the most generous and flavorful crops in recent memory.
The fruit was pressed whole-cluster in small batches and then barrel-fermented in 20% new, 300-liter barrels that were lightly toasted specifically for this wine. These special, larger-format barrels provided all the good things that barrel fermentation brings to Chardonnay: full body and sweeter flavors. The unique low toast of the barrels ensured that the fruit aromas and flavors would shine through. A special yeast strain was used to promote a long fermentation, adding a new level of complexity to this wine. Lees stirring after Malolactic fermentation was employed to boost the smooth, elegant texture.
Alex Beloz, Winemaker