Wine Last Sold on: December 18, 2012
Grgich Hills Estate
2009 Napa Valley Chardonnay
|Region:||California: Napa Valley|
2012 WINE INTRIGUE AWARDS WINNER:
Operatives Choice: Top Chardonnay of 2012
Welcome to day two of the 6th Annual Wine Spies Wine Intrigue Awards. Every year, our Operatives and our Agents choose their favorite wines of the past year. Today, we are very pleased to present our Operatives’ favorite Chardonnay - of any that we showcased in 2012.
Mission Codename: The King of White Burgundy
- Agent Red
- Return to Operative favorite, Grgich Hills Estate and secure the newest vintage of their famous Napa Valley Chardonnay.
- Mission Status
- Miljenko “Mike” Grgich
We’ve had the great fortune to feature the last few successive vintages of this fantastic wine. Today’s 2009 Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Chardonnay is a softer, more elegant vintage than prior vintages, making it exceptionally easy to drink. Our tasting panel found itself spending a long time with this wine, discussing it and witnessing its evolution, allowing it to transform and open up as it warmed. Pair this beautiful wine with a mustard rubbed pork tenderloin with fresh baby spinach salad with mandarin slices and fresh red onion.
Soft golden yellow with even coloration from core to glinting golden edge. After swirling, tall, skinny legs start high up on the glass before moving slowly downward.
Citrus, dried pear and cut pineapple are the primary notes when the wine is well-chilled. As it warms, it gains more complexity, revealing a unique yellow angel food cake with toasty vanilla and lemon zest. Swirl the wine for a while longer, and still more aromas emerge, including soft baking spice, toasty oak and a hint of fresh fennel.
Soft and light on the initial attack. Then, the wine gains some weight at the mid-palate, where a bright crispness introduces a soft, grippy dryness that spreads from the outer edges of the palate, inward.
Mixed citrus of Meyer lemon, sweet lime and lemon zest lead to dried apricot, dried pear, dried white flower petals of acacia and jasmine.
Long and bright with a sustained crispness that carries the citrus flavors to the far corners of the palate. As sweet citrus fades, white flowers and a slate minerality appears and a soft dryness spreads to the corners of the mouth.
What the Winery Says
Following the classic style that Miljenko “Mike” Grgich established when we began in 1977, we did not allow the Chardonnay to undergo malolactic fermentation, and our Biodynamic farming created a wine that is alive with delicious acidity. The wine’s crisp, yet rich, flavors of apple, honeydew melon and fig with a hint of baked brioche are perfect for fresh seafood, roasted chicken, grilled pork, or creamy cheeses.
For the third year in a row, Napa Valley received only two-thirds of its average rainfall in 2009, which reduced crop levels somewhat. Spring was essentially frost-free and a relatively cool summer with no drastic heat surges brought smooth, even grape development. Just before harvest a few days of heat insured perfect ripeness when we picked in the first days of September.
All of our vineyards are certified organic and Biodynamic®. This holistic farming practice uses the earth’s natural cycles and organic preparations to grow balanced, healthy vines without artificial fertilizers, pesticides, or fungicides. We grow our Chardonnay in our American Canyon and Carneros vineyards in the southern tip of Napa Valley, near San Pablo Bay, which spills into the San Francisco Bay. The cool maritime breezes and fog allow the grapes to slowly ripen to develop complex flavors while maintaining a pleasing natural acidity that is impossible to achieve in warmer areas.
Varietals: 100% Chardonnay
Total acidity: 6.5 g/L
Sugar at harvest: 23.6 Brix
Fermentation: Indigenous yeast.
Oak: Fermented and aged 10 months in French oak: 60% neutral barrels, 60% Neutral, 40% new.
Harvest dates: Sept. 3 - Sept. 21, 2007
Bottling date: July, 2010
About the Winery
Victor of Paris Tasting
Miljenko “Mike” Grgich first gained international recognition at the celebrated “Paris Tasting” of 1976. Then, in a now-historic blind tasting, a panel of eminent French judges swirled, sniffed, and sipped an array of the fabled white Burgundies of France and a small sampling of upstart Chardonnays from the Napa Valley. When their scores were tallied, the French judges were shocked: they had chosen Mike’s 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay as the finest white wine in the world. Mon Dieu! The results stunned the international wine establishment and immediately earned Mike a reputation as one of the greatest winemakers in the world.
The Paris Tasting served notice to the world that the California wine industry was on the move, and it laid the groundwork for the creation of Grgich Hills Cellar. After his victory in Paris, Mike sat down with Austin Hills and his sister, Mary Lee Strebl, from the Hills Bros. Coffee family, and on Independence Day 1977, they gave birth to Grgich Hills. It was an ideal partnership. Austin owned premium vineyards in Rutherford, in the heart of the Napa Valley, and with his extensive background in business, he put the winery on its financial feet. Mike, with his fierce commitment to making wines of the highest quality, began producing what immediately became our signature wine: the exquisite, richly complex Chardonnays that win awards and delight wine lovers across America and throughout the world.
Today, we remain committed to making distinctive wines with quality, consistency and longevity. We are proud that world leaders such as Presidents Reagan and Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II and French President François Mitterrand chose our wines to serve at state dinners, but we are just as proud that every single day discriminating wine drinkers count on Grgich Hills to turn their own dinners into special occasions.
We treat each of our six different wines as a special child, carefully nurturing their development and character. Our pride and joy is our Chardonnay, an elegant example of the varietal displaying rich flavors and exquisite balance. As a complement to the Chardonnay, we also produce a refreshingly crisp Fumé Blanc, a rich and spicy Zinfandel, a Cabernet Sauvignon with tremendous depth and complexity, a lush and richly fragrant Merlot, and a luscious dessert wine named “Violetta,” in honor of Mike’s daughter, Violet.
Now 89 years old, and still sporting his signature blue beret, Mike was inducted into the Vinter Hall of Fame in 2008 in honor of his many contributions to the wine industry. While many other Napa wineries pursue strategies of expansion, Mike, along with his daughter, Violet, and his nephew, Ivo Jeramaz, prefer to stay small. Their aim, year after year, is to improve the quality of their vineyards and their wines, relying on Mike’s unique artistic and intuitive touch. This strategy continues to pay significant dividends.
Committed to natural winegrowing and sustainability, we farm our five estate vineyards without artificial fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides, rely on wild yeast fermentation and use our passion and the art of winemaking to handcraft food-friendly, balanced and elegant wines.
Beginning with the 2003 vintage, all Grgich Hills wines were labeled “Estate Grown.” This guarantees a consistently superior level of quality and it means that Grgich Hills will always remain a shining symbol of prestige and good taste. In recognition of that important milestone, the winery changed its name in 2007 to Grgich Hills Estate.