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.
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.
“In 2016, Renee Ary added fruit from a new source to this wine, pulling from the Huichica Ranch in Carneros as well as the usual mix of vineyards in southern Napa, Oak Knoll and Atlas Peak. And though she has retained the basic style of prior years (90 percent of the lot fermented in French oak barrels, 40 percent of them new), she is using more barrels with water-bent staves, which tend to diminish the oak influence on the wine, and she’s changed her malolactic regime to diminish the buttery outcome while still softening the acidity. The result is an earthy Chardonnay that’s supple and creamy, with gentle loquat tartness and savoury, umami notes of fresh puffball mushrooms. Decant it for a creamy veal stew.”
93 points, Wine & Spirits, Oct 2018