2020 will always be remembered as a year of epic challenges. For the grapes, a cold wet spring hindered fruit development during bloom and thus gave us the smallest crop since 1998. An exceptionally light crop level historically leads to exceptionally good quality. Loose clusters with big and small berries “hens and chicks,” as we call them, often leads to dark color and richer and more intense flavors. We began harvest on September 3rd and had a good week of bringing inmost of our grapes for sparkling wine and all our Pinot Noir for our Rosé program. Then, the winds changed and the fires started. For around seven days a thick fog of smoke hung over Sokol Blosser and the Willamette Valley. During that time the sun was covered, all photosynthesis stopped and the grapes’ development stalled. The smoke event ended in an amazing fury of lightening, thunder, and 1” of rain on the night of September 17th. We then waited for the grapes’ development to progress, taking samples and doing micro-ferments to test for smoke effect. Proceeding slowly and carefully once full maturation had been achieved, we harvested the remainder of our Estate fruit feeling incredibly lucky and optimistic.
The grapes were handpicked from Durant, Anderson Family, and Two Barns vineyards over the course of four weeks, starting on September 9th and ending on October 3rd. They were pressed as whole clusters to reduce skin contact and then fermented 25% in our concrete egg and the rest in French oak, with 35% new oak. The entire batch went through malolactic fermentation in neutral or once used oak barrels. After fermentation, the wine was aged for 10 months in neutral oak barrels, then moved to a stainless steel tank for three months to harmonize prior to bottling.
On the nose, our 2020 Estate Chardonnay is warm with vanilla bean, lemon curd and golden apple, accented with honeysuckle. The lemon curd and vanilla bean are joined on the palate by baked yellow apple.
This wine will pair beautifully with baked halibut, Dungeness crab cakes with afresh, lemon aioli, or a classic crispy pork schnitzel.
93 points - James Suckling (2019 - 2016 vintages)