Wine Last Sold on: October 14, 2010
Stony Hill Vineyard
2007 Napa Valley Chardonnay
|Vineyard:||Stony Hill Vineyard|
|Region:||California: Napa Valley|
|Total Allocation:||Extremely Limited|
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The Winery Says:
About This Wine:
“A lot more Frenchness,” says Mike Chelini of our 2007 Chardonnay, calling to mind a complex blend of fruit flavors and a notable mineral component from the depths of the soil. These are old world qualities you would expect to find in Burgundian whites, and yet they also describe the classic Stony Hill style with hints of green apple, honeydew melon and peaches in the nose and at the first sip. A flinty note follows from our Spring Mountain terroir. This is a rich, multi-dimensional wine, very aromatic, with notable acidity and low pH. It offers a big mouth feel, subtle power, and a long, long finish. Mike Chelini’s Farmhouse Style Wild Salmon Dinner (see www.stonyhillvineyard.com/recipes) is the perfect match!
About The Winery:
When Fred and Eleanor McCrea fell in love with and bought a 160-acre goat ranch on the northeast slope of Spring Mountain in 1943, little did they envision a “Stony Hill Vineyard…visitors by appointment only” sign at the bend in the road. Yet sixty years later, the sign hangs there as a testament to their passionate dedication to producing the quality wines that Stony Hill still proudly offers.
The property sits on the western slope of the Napa Valley between Richie Creek to the north and Lyman Creek to the south. Moderating climatic influences such as northeast-facing slopes and an elevation between 700 and 1200 feet above the valley floor make this mild microclimate an ideal location for growing premium Chardonnay grapes.
Vineyard planting began in 1947, when the McCreas located a used tractor to purchase and people to clear and cultivate the land. They wanted to plant Chardonnay exclusively, because they loved the white wine of Burgundy and believed that Stony Hill offered the potential for growing fine quality white Burgundy grapes. At least they wanted to experiment. But the University of California viticulturists encouraged them to diversify for several reasons. Only 200 acres of Chardonnay grapes were planted in California at that time. It was a shy-bearing grape, disease-prone, and not well-known to the wine-drinking public. They suggested planting Pinot Blanc and White Riesling. Instead, Eleanor and Fred followed their own intuition and planted most of their vineyards to Chardonnay. The makeup of the vineyards today reflects their determination, with twenty-five acres of Chardonnay, ten acres of White Riesling, three acres of Gewurztraminer, and one acre of Semillon.
1952 Fred and Eleanor completed a small winery on the property and produced their first vintage of Chardonnay. After allowing the wine to age for two years, they began marketing Stony Hill Chardonnay through a personal letter to Bay Area friends to an encouragingly positive response. Fifty-four years later this annual September mailer is still Stony Hill’s primary mode of marketing, albeit less than half now are sent via the postal service as more and more customers opt for email newsletters. Stony Hill wines are also available at select restaurants in the Napa Valley, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other metropolitan areas across the United States.
Age of vines: 15 – 27 years
Appellation: Napa Valley
Grapes: 100% Grown, produced and bottled at Stony Hill Vineyard
Harvest date: 8/21 – 9/6/07
Fermentation time: 2 weeks in 7 to 38-year-old French barrels
Fermentation temperature: 60 degrees
Aging time: 10 months in aged French oak barrels
Filtering: Filtered to inhibit malolactic fermentation
Bottling date: 6/12/08
Total Acidity: .69%
Residual Sugar: Dry
Aging Potential: 5 years +
Cases produced: 2186 cases .750ml, 100 cases 1.5l
Release date: September 2009
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The Wine Spies Say:
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s Chardonnay form Stony Hill Vineyard, one of the oldest Chardonnay producers in the Napa Valley, is a delicious example of how Chardonnay, when perfectly produced, can be provide a sublime drinking experience.
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Mission Codename: The Originators
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Respond to reports that Stony Hill Vineyard’s newest Chardonnay is worthy of our Operatives exacting tastes. If the wine is as good as reports have led us to believe, procure an ample allocation for our Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Stony Hill Vineyard
Wine Subject: 2007 Napa Valley Chardonnay
Winemaker: Mike Chelini
Backgrounder: Chardonnay is arguably the greatest of all white grape varietals, showing its influence in the legendary sparkling wines of Champagne, the great whites of Burgundy and of course its expression as ’the’ white wine of California. Chardonnay represents over 50% of the planted white grapes in California with nearly 100,000 acres planted. With such a great number of wines made from this grape, it stands to reason that finding wines of immense quality would be hard, but look no further. Today’s selection from the Spring Mountain vineyards of Stony Hill is a richly delicious wine with plenty of character, without being overly oaked or buttery.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Pale yellow with straw yellow hues right though its clear core. When swirled, the wine settles quickly, leaving behind tall columns of skinny legs that streak down the glass.
Smell – Lush and rich on the nose, with bold aromas of citrus peel, green apple, white peach and subtle white flowers. Just under the surface, fine aromas of orange blossom, light spice and acacia round out the nose.
Feel – Voluptuous, round and velvet smooth on entry and across the mid-palate. The lush feel of the wine fills the entire mouth. After swallowing, the lips experience a dryness that seems to ease its way back across the palate, leaving a soft flinty dryness as it moves.
Taste – Delicious and complex, but also very easy on the palate, with layered flavors of citrus, green apple, dried apricot and soft white flowers. Subtle creamy tangerine, flint and hints of spice add a touch of intrigue.
Finish – Long and delicious, starting with a creamy feeling that moves, softly and slowly, to a flinty dryness with a hint of the subtlest spice. Eventually, flavors fade and the soft flinty dryness persists, reminding you to take another sip.
Conclusion – The 2007 Stony Hill Napa Valley Chardonnay is a delicious, sexy wine that pleased our tasting panel with its balance, creamy feel, deep aromatics and its full flavors. This wine did not undergo malolactic fermentation, which is a technique that adds what some consider to be an artificial – and often buttery – creaminess to Chardonnay. And, while this is does have a creamy feel, it feels natural and without any harmful notes of butter. The creaminess has a lightness to it, which actually accentuates the flavors of the wine, rather than masking them. The oak in the wine, while not exactly neutral, is nicely balanced. We experimented with the wine, drinking it at different temperatures. We had a very different experience with the wine at close-to-room-temp, than at fresh from the chiller, and we recommend that you enjoy the wine somewhere in-between for best results and fullest flavors. Pair this wine with your favorite fall meal, and be sure to save some for your holiday table.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Mike Chelini
WINE EDUCATION: From my peers
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Sterling Vineyards (1970-1972) Stony Hill Vineyard (1972-present)
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Nonintervention. Let the fruit speak.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: ”It’s Wine:30”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: Stony Hill Vineyard 1952; Stony Hill Vineyard, under Mike, 1973
AGENT RED: Greetings, Mike. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Stony Hill Chardonnay today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
MIKE: You’re welcome.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
MIKE: Making wine at home in my Italian Grandfather’s cellar and sharing it with family & friends.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
MIKE: Fredrick H. McCrea & Frenchman/Italians.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
MIKE: Foodies & our longtime customers.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
MIKE: Age worthy, food-friendly, with good acid structure. Light with delicate power & long finish, no oak flavor.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
MIKE: Everything that sleeps in the ocean. Personal favorites are seafood/shellfish risotto.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Spring Mountain appellation so special?
MIKE: The temperate climate & our Northeast facing slopes. Rich, well-draining, rocky soils.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
MIKE: Keeping my employees happy (i.e. cerveza), crushing grapes, and tasting the juice.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
MIKE: If you like it, drink it.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
MIKE: Come up for a taste!
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!