Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Chardonnay (375ML half-bottle) 1999
When searching for top quality Chardonnay in California, there seems to be impressive wines coming from every major viticultural area in the state. The search becomes more focused as we develop our own stylistic preferences for our Diamond Series Chardonnay. We have settled on northern Monterey County, near Salinas, where the fog and wind blow through the valley almost constantly, keeping the area cool and the growing season lengthy. The wines here are very aromatic and are loaded with bright apple flavors and aromas. They tend to have higher acidity levels that really are ideal for both barrel and malolactic fermentation. But for the wonderfully expressive tropical fruit flavors, we need to blend vineyards from the warmer climates of the state like San Luis Obispo and Mendocino Counties. These grapes give us the powerful pineapple and sweet pear flavors that both add density and round the palette of the finished wine. The end result from blending the same grape but from different growing areas is to make a more interesting and enjoyable wine for our customers and clients.
Francis puts it best, saying the winery is meant to be "a wine wonderland, a park of pleasure where people of all ages can enjoy all the best things in life – food, wine, music, dancing, games, swimming and performances of all types. A place to celebrate the love of life."
One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production as well as tourism, the Napa Valley was responsible for bringing worldwide recognition to California winemaking. In the 1960s, a few key wine families settled the area and hedged their bets on the valley's world-class winemaking potential—and they were right.
The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980s, when producers scooped up vineyard lands and planted vines throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, and today Napa is home to hundreds of producers ranging from boutique to corporate. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Napa whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that claim specific characteristics based on situation, slope and soil. Farthest south and coolest from the influence of the San Pablo Bay is Carneros, followed by Coombsville to its northeast and then Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford. Above those are the warm St. Helena and the valley's newest and hottest AVA, Calistoga. These areas follow the valley floor and are known generally for creating rich, dense, complex and smooth reds with good aging potential. The mountain sub appellations, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs, include Stags Leap District, Atlas Peak, Chiles Valley (farther east), Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Spring Mountain District and Diamond Mountain District. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from a lot of time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.