2006 Vieilles Vignes Chardonnay
Chardonnay •Estate Vineyard
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!
Today’s old vine Chardonnay is well worthy of your consideration and celler. Treat yourself to a delicious and elegant Chardonnay that is perfect for your holiday celebrations.
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Mission Codename: 30 Years In The Making
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Revisit our friends at Signorello and acquire their acclaimed Vieilles Vignes Chardonnay
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Signorello Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2006 Vieilles Vignes Chardonnay
Winemaker: Ray Signorello Jr.
Start with Ray ‘Padrone’ Signorello, who bought the vineyard on the Silverado trail, just north of Napa in the 1970s then add Ray Jr on winemaking, and the results are wines with great balance and finesse; luscious fruit and a unique connection to its Terroir. The vines for this wine were originally planted in 1980 and like most things wine, they improve with age.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Light and clear golden yellow with amber and honey colored hues. A slightly viscous surface texture with widely spaced slow and thin legs.
Smell – Medium intensity with well balanced aromas of spice layered over tropical and stone fruit. Toasty with hints of melon, honey and the very slightest touch of butter.
Feel – Rich and smooth with good spice and minerality on the mid-palate. Good structure and balance between the tannins and creamy texture.
Taste – Tart and crisp green apple, ripe Royal Riviera pear with notes of tropical and citrus fruit. A touch of baking spice, toast and hints of oak balance out the fruit and add a deep complexity.
Finish – Extremely long, this wine just keeps delivering with alternating flavors of its spice and minerality on one hand and its lush and creamy texture on the other.
Conclusion – The 2006 Vieilles Vignes Chardonnay is a wonderful wine that is not the typical butter-ball Chardonnay that leaves us so disappointed. Classic and complex with exceptional balance between its acidity and minerality and its lush and creaminess makes this wine a great food wine complimenting just about anything, and also with the structure to stand up on its own and to cellar as well.
The following conversation was picked up under a federal wire-tap by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, and while not directly related to the Blagojevich indictment, it did include a conversation between Agent Red and _*Signorello Vineyards, Director of Marketing (and overall go-to guy at the winery), Ryan Shenk*. Neither are suspected of any wrong doing however, the transcript is clearly of interest to those who love Signorello Vineyards’ wines…
please note: the following conversation mentions a wine that was featured by the wine spies previously. today’s exceptional Signorello wine is their 2006 Vieilles Vignes Chardonnay
AGENT RED: I know how busy you are, Ryan, so thanks for taking some time to chat with me today.
RYAN SHENK: My Pleasure, Agent Red! We’re excited to have our 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon featured on The Wine Spies. This is our best wine and I am sure that your Operatives will love it.
RED: Our Operatives know that 2004 was a banner year for Napa Cab, so I expect them to procure an ample supply for their own collections.
RYAN: It’s a great wine, and it’s the wine that we pour the most love into. We’ve been making Cabernet Sauvignon since 1988 (Chardonnay since 1985), so we’ve had some time to perfect it.
RED: Ray Signorello, Jr., your winemaker, sort of fell into the wine business, didn’t he?
RYAN: Yes, his family purchased land in Napa when Ray Jr. was just a kid. That was in the 70’s. They purchased 150 acres that Ray’s father planned to retire on. The plan was to build a house at the top of the hill, but they were soon convinced by friends to plant Chardonnay grapes instead.
RED: At that time, Napa Chardonnay was just beginning to receive worldwide recognition. In fact, the famous Judgment of Paris was won by a Napa winery, beating out several big French wines!
RYAN: Exactly. Back then, Napa was just beginning to emerge as a top wine making region. Ray Jr. was really at the forefront of Napa wine. His family stated off by growing and then selling grapes. soon after Ray Jr. became a winemaker for Signorello’s own wines.
RED: How did he really get into the business, though? Ray Jr. was starting a career in real estate in San Francisco when the family really got going in the business.
RYAN: Ray Jr. would return home to Napa on the weekends, where he learned the art of winemaking. Soon after, he joined his father in the business and worked full-time to build the winery and make great wines.
RED: Ray Jr. does make great wines. I am really impressed with the elegance of this 2004 Cab. Its delicious and very supple. What’s happening at the winery these day?
RYAN: Well, like all of our friends and neighbors, we are rushing around, preparing for the coming harvest! We’re getting the equipment ready, cleaning and sanitizing everything, getting the bins ready, fueling the tractors, and, most importantly, checking the sugar levels in the grapes.
RED: I would imagine that you don’t see much of Ray this time of year.
RYAN: Oh, we see him zipping around, but mostly he’s in the fields, checking on the grapes, measuring and waiting for that magical moment that sets the harvest team into a frenzy of activity!
RED: I know that this is a busy time of year for everyone in the winery. I thank you for spending some time with me today!
RYAN: Thanks, Red. Cheers to you and your Operatives. Enjoy our great wines!!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Signorello Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Signorello Vineyards, Member, Napa Valley Vintners
We are proud to present our 2006 “Vieilles Vignes” Estate Chardonnay. The grapes sourced for this native yeast fermented Chardonnay were hand picked and carefully selected from our original vineyard planted in 1980. These 26 year old vines yielded an average of 1.8 tons per acre.
Awards & Accolades:
Here’s the problem: so many superlatives, so little space. I loved the silky texture, beautiful integration of oak and fruit, excellent balance of ripe fruit and acidity and seemingly endless finish. If you can resist savoring (and finishing) this lush, highly refined wine as an aperitif, pair it with flavorful poultry or pork dishes. – “John Vankat, Arizona Daily Sun”, August 27th, 2008
About This Wine:
The nose opens with intense tropical fruit, toast and mineral aromas. Rich fruit flavors, especially of apple and pear enhance the lush palate. French oak provides a touch of spice with hints of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg. A bright apple-like crispness balances these silky, toasty layers. Drinkability: 2007 to 2013
Winemaking Notes: Careful pressing of whole clusters minimized skin contact. This gentle process helps the wine achieve balance as well as develop a silky mouth-feel and enhances the aging potential. Using native yeasts, the wine fermented at 50 degrees in French oak barrels with 30% of the wine undergoing a second, malolactic fermentation. Tonnelleries: Francois Freres and Damy. Oak types: Allier, and Troncais.
Vineyard Notes: This Chardonnay was grown exclusively on our estate vineyard located on the Silverado Trail in the Oak Knoll area. This shallow, rocky hillside vineyard planted in 1980 stressed the vines sufficiently during the growing season to ensure intense varietal character. We employed a variety of techniques in managing each vineyard’s microclimate including vertical trellising, leaf removal and crop reduction.
Harvest Report: After a year that kept grape growers on their toes, vintners and winemakers breathed a sigh of relief as the 2006 harvest closed. Flooding kicked off the New Year in Napa Valley, which made for great TV footage, but did little damage to the dormant vines, as cover crops stabilized soils in the vineyards. In mid July, a record-setting heat wave lasted about ten days, but with the crop a few weeks behind, damage was almost nil. According to Pierre Birebent, the overall quality of 2006 looks outstanding and should be an excellent vintage.
About The Winery:
Ray Signorello Jr. began his journey as winemaker and vineyard owner in the Napa Valley during the mid 1980’s. Ray, born in San Francisco, California, moved to Vancouver, Canada where the Signorello family continues to maintain a home. Ray divides his time between Napa, San Francisco, Vancouver and business related travel. Ray’s father, Ray Sr., initiated the vineyard project during the mid 1970’s by purchasing the 100-acre estate located on the Silverado Trail in the beautiful Napa Valley. Ray Sr. worked side by side with Ray Jr., establishing the winery’s reputation for excellence until his passing in the fall of 1998.
No Turning Back – Signorellos’ original plan was to grow quality grapes to sell to existing wineries, but the harvest of 1985 changed this plan into a new level of evolvement. The bountiful crop allowed Signorellos to custom crush the excess grapes. This opportunity demonstrated what fabulous wine their vineyards were capable of producing. The project continues to grow, as do the spectacular 42 acres planted in several different varietals. Ray’s continuing effort represents the invested energies that created this reality from a dream.
In 1986 the Signorellos began the second phase of the venture, this was the building of the main winery structure. This beautiful building is used for barrel storage, wine tasting and retail sales. Along with the building of the winery, wine production was expanded to include Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. By the end of the 1980’s the Signorello family was thoroughly committed to making wine as well as growing grapes.
The decade of the nineties proved to be pivotal for Signorello Vineyards. In 1990 the first planting of red varietals began on the property- Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah.
What brought the Signorellos to the Napa Valley was the romantic side of winemaking; growing grapes, working the land, and enjoying the wine country lifestyle of camaraderie, good wine and great meals. While the Valley lifestyle is a very real part of the business, there is a serious responsibility to making a dream become a reality, both father and son realized this fact early in the endeavor.
This venture was a dream; now it is reality. We have enjoyed every moment of it, and we look forward to continuing on to make quality wines from the Napa Valley!