Over the last few years, our vineyard manager, Bob Steinhauer, and I have recognized that several blocks in our Gamble Ranch Vineyard near Yountville have the ability to "go the distance," yielding even riper and richer Chardonnay than the other blocks.
During the 1997 harvest, we let these grapes hang on the vines as long as we could stand the suspense, then hand-picked the grapes. We barrel-fermented the juice in new French Nevers oak barrels and hand-stirred the wine weekly on its lees, aging it for a total of nine months.
The result is a full-bodied, almost viscous wine, with rich aromas and flavors of creamy butter, citrus-tinged Golden Delicious apples and toasted almonds, with notes of caramel, spice, and sweet vanilla. The finish is long a lush, with layers of citrus, butter, and spice.