2011 will go down as one of the coolest and longest growing seasons in the Santa Lucia Highlands’ relatively brief history. Unseasonably frosty weather in early April kept the vines in a slow growth mode for the first two months of the growing season. Summer was cool, with no Indian Summer occurring in the early fall, allowing the vines to coast into ripeness with full maturation of flavors and retention of vibrant natural grape acidity. Bright, tropical and rich all describe the 2011 Highlands Bench Chardonnay.
2011 J. Lohr Highlands Bench Chardonnay comes from the Escolle Road Vineyard, just west of the town of Gonzales and the Costa Vineyard, just west of the town of Soledad in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA of Monterey. We were invited to partner with a group of friends - Gary Caraccioli, the Nunes and Hiyashi families - in 2006, to establish a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyard on Rianda family property (Escolle Road) and the Costa family property. We participated in soil evaluation, vineyard layout and clone and rootstock selection, ultimately choosing the sandiest soils for Chardonnay planting. The clones selected were a Wente clone from Larry Hyde’s vineyard in Carneros, a Robert Young selection from Sonoma County, and two Dijon selections - clones 95 and 76. All are shy-bearing, but very flavorful. The close proximity to Monterey Bay, the eastern slope and aspect, and the elevation above the Salinas Valley floor provide a cool, sunny, ideal environment for growing intensely flavored Burgundian varietals.
|Appellation:||Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, Monterey County, CA|
|Harvest Dates:||October 4-6, 2011|
|Harvest Process:||Hand-harvested at night, vineyard-pressed to 0.8 bars and settled|
|Harvest Chemistries:||25.5° Brix, pH 3.33,
0.73 g/100ml total acidity
|Vinification:||Yeast: Native fermentation, CY3079, VL2
Fermentation: In barrel for an average of 17 days
Malolactic: Inoculated each barrel with Christian Hansen Vinaflora Oenos and Lactoenos SB3 strains of malolactic bacteria in October 2011. Completed malolactic fermentation in November 2011.
Stirring: Weekly stirring of each barrel, starting November 2011 until June 2012 (during malolactic fermentation and seven months post)
Post-Stirring: Monthly topping up of barrels with free sulfur dioxide and oxygen monitoring
Maturation: Aged in barrel sur lie for 18 months in 52% new oak
Barrel Type: French oak, very tight grain
Coopers: Mostly Francois Frères and Marcel Cadet
|Bottling Chemistries:||pH: 3.57
Total Acidity: 0.62 g/100ml
Alcohol: 14.10 % by volume
Residual Sugar: 0.40 g/100ml
|Cases Produced: 1,490 (2,981 6-packs)|
|Cellaring: 2 to 4 years from vintage date|
Youthful and bright yellow in color, with aromas of tropical fruits, guava, pineapple and passion fruit, which are enhanced by a bouquet of toasted vanilla, hazelnut and butterscotch from French oak barrel fermentation. The 2011 Highlands Bench Chardonnay is fruit intensive, and rich, yet balanced by Santa Lucia Highlands bright acidic structure, making it a perfect match for grilled seafood or fowl, or as a aperitif with triple crème brie cheese.
—Jeff Meier, Winemaker
Grilled or broiled monkfish, halibut or seabass with olive oil and lavender salt, cornish game hens or triple crème brie.