2010 Weka Ranch Vineyard Chardonnay
Chardonnay •Weka Ranch Vineyard
California: Napa Valley: Oak Knoll District
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s 92-Point single vineyard Chardonnay form Corvalle, is a sublimely delicious example of exceptional Napa Valley Chardonnay. We always showcase wines that we love, and when one really stands out, we issue these special alerts.
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Mission Codename: Little Birds
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Respond to reports that Corvalle Chardonnay is worthy of our Operatives exacting tastes. If the wine is as good as reports have led us to believe, procure an ample allocation for our Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Corvalle
Wine Subject: 2010 Weka Ranch Vineyard Chardonnay – Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley
Winemaker: Ryan Moreland
Backgrounder: A little over five years ago, the Oak Knoll District at the northern end of the Napa Valley was finally affirmed to be distinct sub-appellation of Napa Valley. This region is known for its relatively cool climate and for producing grapes with the perfect balance of acidity and sugars – resulting in delicious and very food-friendly wines. Read Red’s mission report and tasting notes, below, for the full intel on today’s great wine
Chardonnay is arguably the greatest of all white grape varietals, showing its influence in the legendary sparkling wines of Champagne, the great whites of Burgundy and of course its expression as ‘the’ white wine of California. Chardonnay represents over 50% of the planted white grapes in California with nearly 100,000 acres planted. With such a great number of wines made from this grape, it stands to reason that finding wines of immense quality would be hard, but look no further. Today’s selection from Rodde Family Vineyards is a richly delicious wine with plenty of character.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Light golden yellow hues, with color that remains perfectly even – from core to edge. Tall, skinny legs descend slowly, from high up on the glass wall.
Smell – After this wine warms, just slightly, it bursts with lush aromas. Pineapple, green apple and white spiced peach combine with more subtle aromas of lemon curd, soft sweetwood, dried white flowers and a hint of subtle white pepper.
Feel – Soft, round and velvet smooth, up front. At the mid-palate, soft tannins give the wine a soft crushed velvet feel, complete with a hint of dryness. Slate minerals, bright acids and a hint of spice add just the right amount of complexity.
Taste – Bright and flavorful, lead by mixed citrus, bright pineapple, dried Granny Smith apple, startfruit and yellow grapefruit. Beneath these, hints of acacia, subtle white pepper and flint give the wine a subtle complexity.
Finish – Long and flavor-filled, lead by sweet fruit that gently yields to tart and subtle flavors of flowers, soft spice and a hint of slate. A soft dryness then encroaches, spreading all around the palate, eventually puckering the lips and drying the cheeks.
Conclusion – Today’s single vineyard 2010 Corvalle Chardonnay is a bright and delicious with a fantastic softness – without being buttery at all. Winemaker, Ryan Moreland, used neutral oak and partial malolactic fermentation in making today’s wine, resulting in a Chardonnay that is fresh, crisp and clean. Without big oak to overpower the flavors, the fruit is allowed to really shine through, delivering a freshness that is rare among California Chardonnay. Aromatics, too, are bright and lively, presenting sweet, authentic fruits on the nose. This bright and balanced wine is an easy Summertime sipper that is a true delight all on its own. It has the structure and acidity, though, to be a fantastic companion to your favorite Summer meals. This wine get’s our highest Wine Spies recommendation!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Ryan Moreland aka Agent Tall Guy
WINE EDUCATION: A BS in Environmental Chemistry and getting my hands dirty in my family’s vineyard
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Entered the industry as a wine chemist, but realized I wanted to get more hands on. Went on to cut my teeth at some of Napa Valley’s finest wineries, including Etude, Rubicon and Salvestrin.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: _ “I focus on structure and balance. I like to think of wine as a table with many legs, each leg representing a different component – alcohol, tannins, fruit, acidity, body, etc. It doesn’t matter whether your table is 2 feet tall or 10 feet tall, as long as it’s all in balance.”_
WINEMAKER QUOTE: “The wine tastes fine up here!”
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: Rutherford Runway Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Spring 2011
AGENT RED: Thanks for joining us, Agent Tall Guy.
RYAN MORELAND: Thank you, I’m thrilled to be collaborating on this mission!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
RYAN: There are so many reasons I love wine, but what really sparked my love of winemaking was seeing how wine could bring people together, creating a sense of community and some great memories.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
RYAN: My ‘a-ha’ wine was a Syrah Cab blend from Rolando Herrera. I loved the way that it had a powerful core, but was wrapped in a silky approachable exterior, kind of like a cowboy in a tuxedo.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
RYAN: Corvalle is really about community, so I make wines for my friends and family to enjoy. My hope is that these wines will bring people together to create great memories.
RED: Please tell me a little about the wine we are featuring today.
RYAN: Today’s wine is my 2010 Weka Ranch Vineyard Chardonnay from the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley. Coming into harvest I was out in the vineyard daily, walking and tasting. Once I started noticing honeysuckle and bright pear flavors in the grapes, I knew we were good to go. We got them off the vine and into the winery, where we began with a gentle whole cluster pressing. The juice was fermented cold and slow in neutral oak barrels and small stainless steel drums, capturing the full aromatic potential of the grapes. This was followed by a partial malolactic fermentation and six months of aging on the lees. As a result the wine exhibits layers of bright fruit, rounded acidity, and a solid mid-palate.
RED: What’s your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
RYAN: You know, it’s not very evolved, but there’s nothing better than a raincoast crisp topped with Piave, a northern Italian cow’s milk cheese. But, in general, it pairs well with fish, garden vegetables, and Asian flavors… pretty much anything zesty, fresh or spicy.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Oak Knoll district so special?
RYAN: The climate is well-suited for growing grapes with strong acidity and developed fruit characteristics, which is ideal for Chardonnay.
RED: What is occupying you in your time at the winery these days?
RYAN: Well, we just bottled our 2011 Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc., and now that that’s finished I’ve begun going through and tasting the 2011 reds in barrel in order to evaluate them.
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
RYAN: You can’t go wrong with pairing food and friends.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our Operatives?
RYAN: Buy domestic! Without a doubt wineries in America are struggling against foreign imports. There are a lot of great wines being made on our own soil. I make wine for my supporters and I love to support local products. Without your support, we would just be a bunch of silly drunks swimming around in tanks of grape juice.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
92 Points – Wine Enthusiast – “Quite an interesting Chardonnay, in an era when so many are too sweet and extracted. There’s plenty of orange and apricot fruit flavor, but also a brilliant streak of minerality, like a lick of cold steel, and the overall taste is dry. Really easy to like, with lots of complexity to warrant repeated sipping.”
About This Wine:
The 2010 Weka Ranch Vineyard Chardonnay is fermented and aged in a combination of stainless steel drums and neutral oak barrels. This technique, combined with partial malolactic fermentation, allows the true varietal ﬂavors of green apple and pear to shine through. Sur-lie aging for ﬁve months contributes to a full mouth-feel, producing rich ﬂavors of apple pie, highlighted by notes of spice and honeydew.
Aroma & Taste: Crisp, fruit forward expression with a
well rounded mouthfeel. Green apple, vanillin, pears, white
The Vineyard: John and Sharon Chappell, owners of Weka Ranch Vineyard, ﬁrst began growing grapes in John’s home country of New Zealand. Sharon, a native Californian, initially thought Wekas to be a type of tree. When she ﬁrst met their vineyard manager, he noted an abundance of Wekas in the area, to which she replied they also had many growing around their house. The vineyard manager was quite confused since a Weka is actually a bird, not a tree. Sharon still laughs when recounting this story, and it seems only ﬁtting to me to name their ﬁrst California vineyard after this funny encounter.
Their two-acre site of Chardonnay sits in Napa’s Oak Knoll district, with cool foggy mornings and warm afternoons, creating ideal conditions for growing superb Chardonnay.
About The Winery:
Varietal: 100% Chardonnay
Vineyard: Weka Ranch
AVA / Appellation: Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley
Harvest Date: 10/8/2010
Winemaking: – Fermented in stainless steel drums
and neutral oak barrels; – Sur lie aged for 5 months; – Partial native fermentation; – Partial ML, Fermented dry