2017 Neyers Carneros Chardonnay
Wine Spectator, 92 points
We’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of the 2017 Carneros District Chardonnay at Neyers Vineyards now for several months, as we’ve watched it develop into an increasingly attractive wine. The 1992 Chardonnay was our first labeled as Carneros District, and it was made with the help of the now celebrated winemaking consultant Helen Turley. Helen’s winemaking ideas at the time were new and considered radical. They made sense to me back then only because I had partnered with Kermit Lynch, and was regularly traveling to Burgundy. Her close connection with several of the producers with whom I was working increased both my confidence in and comfort with her techniques. Helen used the term ‘Double Wild’ to describe her Chardonnay winemaking. It was a reference to the use of wild, native yeast for primary fermentation, and wild, native lactic-acid bacteria to support the secondary or malo-lactic fermentation. Crucial to Helen’s process as well was pressing the fruit in whole clusters with stems intact so as to reduce the amount of pulp or solids in the fermenting juice. She fermented in 60-gallon French oak barrels, and encouraged a 100% complete malo-lactic fermentation. Few producers in California made Chardonnay this way in 1992, but now of course it has become commonplace. Helen helped to raise the consciousness of winemaking during her career, and we at Neyers are grateful to have benefitted from her talents. Now our winemaker Tadeo Borchardt has brought his own skills to the game. He has chosen three vineyards as the sources for the grapes, and each vineyard is planted to an heirloom, small-berry version of Chardonnay known as ‘Shot-Wente’. Tadeo’s contributions have done much to improve even further the quality of the Neyers Carneros District Chardonnay.
Sourced from three vineyards all from the cool coastal influenced western Carneros area. Natural acidity is preserved in the grapes here even though the fruit is ripe enough to provide mild tropical and golden apple notes in the wine. The grapes are whole cluster pressed and fermented in both new (25%) and neutral French Oak barrels. There is a definite smoky depth here from this. Lees (spent yeast) stirring is done in barrel to encourage a creamy mouthfeel and full body as well as increase complexity in the wine. Additional contact with the lees after barrel fermentation is encouraged to impart a slight hazelnut character.
USA, California, Carneros
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