A favorite variety of many winemakers, Chardonnay allows the characteristics of the vineyard and vintage to be fully articulated through the craft of winemaking. From intriguing mineral flavors and wet stone aromas to lush, tropical fruit tastes, Chardonnay has a tremendous range of expression. A hallmark of the Patz & Hall winemaking program is the distinctive character of each of our Chardonnays, each beautifully rendered.
Our grapes are hand-harvested in the cool of the early morning and immediately sorted in the field. Leaves, imperfect fruit and under-ripe clusters are discarded. These hand-harvested and selected grapes are taken to the winery, where they are meticulously sorted again. The remaining fruit is immediately "whole cluster" pressed. This process produces juice containing very little tannin and preserves the delicate aromatics and full flavors of the Chardonnay fruit. While we end up with less wine this way, the quality and age-worthiness make it worth it.
After pressing, the juice, with all of the lees, is racked into 100 percent French oak barrels, where, after several days, it begins to ferment. The barrel fermentations typically progress very slowly, often finishing in early winter. This extended fermentation gives rise to wines with great depth of flavor and roundness. During this period, the wines are stirred weekly to extract the toasty, roasted aromas from the grape solids and yeast remaining in the barrel. At the same time, we top the barrels weekly to protect the wines from oxidation. All Patz & Hall Chardonnays undergo malo-lactic fermentation and then develop in barrel for eleven months before being bottled without filtration. The yeast particles that remain further guard the wines from oxidation, so they continue to age favorably in bottle. Gently transferred from barrel to bottle, unfiltered wines do not undergo "bottle shock," consequently, Patz & Hall Chardonnays are delicious upon release and continue to evolve in bottle over time.