We hand picked the grapes at night under floodlights and immediately pressed the cool clusters to fully preserve their fresh, vibrant flavors. We fermented sixty percent of the juice in two- to three-year-old French oak barrels to develop rich, toasty aromatics and mouthfeel, with the balance in stainless steel barrels to retain lively fruit expression. The wine did not undergo malolactic fermentation because Robert prefers to keep its crisp, tartaric acid balance. We stirred the yeast (bâtonnage) until the wine completed fermentation, to further enhance the silky texture and flavor complexity, and then we barrel aged the wine for nine months. A warm, dry spring and nearly ideal summer temperatures followed a very low-rainfall winter in 2013. While we worried about water, these factors resulted in balanced vines, excellent fruit set and small, concentrated grapes. “We had perfect weather during the very condensed harvest,” says Robert. “I spent nights up at our mountain-top winery so I could begin crushing again at sunrise. All the varieties ripened at once! However, those brilliantly clear, cool nights—paired with optimum daytime temperatures—fostered beautifully balanced wines.”
The thin, limestone-rich soils of Chalone Vineyard produce low yields of grapes bursting with rich, intense flavors and impeccable balance. This wine comes from a 12-acre Pinot Blanc vineyard that we planted in 1991, using budwood taken from a spectacular 1946 planting on our mountain estate. The name of the Chalone American Viticultural Area (AVA), like that of the winery, comes from the name of a tribe of Native Americans who once inhabited this isolated area.