The first wine produced by Cakebread Cellars was a Chardonnay from the 1973 vintage, and this varietal has become the most widely appreciated of its range. Grapes are sourced from Napa's best Chardonnay microclimates: the southernmost section of the Napa Valley, and the Carneros region, cool-climate areas recognized for the superb quality of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir they produce. These vineyards, which Cakebread directly manages, are planted in a variety of clones which lend the wine depth and complex aromas. Because the different clones ripen at different rates in different vineyard sites, harvest may begin as early as the first of September and last until mid-October. The grapes are harvested at night or in the early hours of the morning, when the fruit is coolest. Fermentation can then begin with very little, if any, cooling.
Cakebread Cellars' Napa Valley Chardonnay is light straw in color with a glint of gold. Its aromas are reminiscent of green apples and the faint scent of apricots with a clean scent of mineral suggestive of flint. These impressions are repeated on the palate with a very slight buttery finish and a subtle hint of French oak vanillin in the background. Good depth with an ideal balance of fruit and crisp acidity lead into a fresh, silky finish.