One of Napa Valley’s early players, Duckhorn has been working with some of the valley’s best vineyards for over 35 years. Their Napa Valley Chardonnay comes from the coolest regions and the wine is prepared using classic Burgundian technique. The wine fermented in French oak (45% new, 23% second use, and 22% neutral) with regular lees stirring, then matureed ten months in barrel prior to bottling. Around a third of the barrels went through malolactic fermentation, yielding a nicely tuned balance between bright acidity and mellow cream on the palate.
In Napa Valley, a warm, dry spring in 2015 resulted in any early budbreak, while an extended flowering period brought a return to normal yields after three vintages of abundant crops. With berry weights down, the grapes offered great concentration, while retaining excellent acidity. The winery had one of their earliest harvests in the past decade, with the first white grapes coming in on the last day of July. Light rain in mid-September nourished the vines and provided welcome hang-time. Overall, the quality of the fruit was exceptional, with the whites showing richness and complexity.
From the gorgeous aromas of nectarine, vanilla, and cream to the bright entry and rich, silky texture, this is a vibrant and complex Chardonnay. On the palate, flavours of pear, peach, chai spice, and wildflowers are framed by delicate French oak leading to a long, mineral-driven finish.
“This is a concentrated and deliciously lush white wine, highlighted in thick notions of honey, pear and swirls of caramel. Expressive and ripe, it does justice to the warm-vintage and focused winemaking.”
91 points, Wine Enthusiast, Dec 2017