2004 Napa Valley Chardonnay Carneros
California: Carneros (Sonoma & Napa)
What We Say
Superior Wine Alert!: This Chardonnay is truly a gem of a wine. Balanced in every aspect and a true value to boot. Go see the movie Bottle Shock and when you get home, pop open a bottle of this to celebrate how great California Chardonnay can be.
Savings Alert!: The Wine Spies are pleased to offer free ground shipping on orders of six or more bottles. Just enter the promotion code NAPASPY during checkout.
Mission Codename: Gustavo versus Goliath
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Seek out the perfect wine to enjoy after seeing the movie Bottle Shock.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Gustavo Thrace
Wine Subject: 2004 Napa Valley Carneros Chardonnay
Winemaker: Gustavo Brambila
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. In this wine, we have found perhaps the ideal expression of the California Chardonnay.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Light pale golden yellow with pale edges, a slightly viscous look when swirled with slow thin legs that creep down the side of the glass.
Smell – Medium intensity on the nose with honey and orange blossom floral notes, mild sweet toasted vanilla indicating a careful oak regimen, and refreshing tart pineapple and pears.
Feel – This wine has an exceptionally seductive mouth-feel with a smooth and cream texture. This slightly viscous wine is well integrated with balanced acidity across the entire palate.
Taste – Lush layers of green fruit including pears and tropical notes of pineapple over a toasted vanilla-oak component with a touch of sweet honey.
Finish – Long lingering and clean that balances both the tart green and tropical fruit with a touch of citrus with its creamy mouthfeel.
Conclusion – Gustavo Thrace hits a home run with with this exceptional Chardonnay. Not an oak or butter dominated wine, this wine does balance its fruit, spice and oak perfectly with a mouth-feel that is simply amazing. Its balanced acidity makes this wine a perfect choice for food pairing that complements nutty cows milk cheeses as well as even the richest triple cream.
Back in 1976, California wines shocked the world. What started as a publicity stunt for Steven Spurrier, a British wine merchant trying to make a living in Paris turned into an event that changed California’s wine business forever, inspiring a generation of new wineries along the way. The story of the Judgment of Paris (also known as the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976) is the subject of the newly released movie Bottle Shock.
The Judgment of Paris was a blind tasting of both white and red wines with the best of France’s wines on full display. Eleven judges reviewed the wines and of those judges only Steven Spurrier, a Brit, and Patricia Gallagher, an American, were not French (the bias wouldn’t matter in the end…)
The results of the Judgment of Paris stunned the wine world with the 1973 vintage of Chateau Montelena’s 1973 Chardonnay winning the white wine category topping such French giants as Meursault Charmes Roulot and Beaune Clos des Mouches Joseph Drouhin. What’s more, three of the top five whites were from California.
That brings us to today’s wine selection. Gustavo Brambila was the assistant winemaker for Mike Grgich at Chateau Montelena. Gustavo Brambila was the first Mexican-American to graduate from University of California at Davis’s enology program.
In 1996, Brambila teamed up with Thrace Bromberger and founded Gustavo Thrace winery and here we are today. Now, over 30 years later and California is still shocking the world with exceptional wines and in honor of that auspicious day we bring you one of Gustavo Brambila’s latest masterpieces, the 2004 Gustavo Thrace Chardonnay. In this wine, you not only get a great Chardonnay, you get to taste a little bit of history as well.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Gustavo Thrace Tasting Room can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
This chardonnay is 100% Chardonnay, all from a single vineyard block in the Carneros region. This is the 8th year that we have harvested the same fruit from this vineyard and we are pleased with how the vines are maturing. The fruit was harvested at 24 brix. It was fermented down to 12% in stainless steel then broken down to allow some of the wine to age in neutral French oak and 25% to finish fermenting in stainless steel. Two different yeasts were used and the wine remained in the oak for 18 months. The wine was bottled in May, 2006 with 300 cases produced. There is a beautifully integrated oak finish to the wine, with flavors of vanilla, pears, pineapple and a brioche toastiness. It has a rich, full mouth that finishes with caramel and citrus. The sexy, lingering mouth will make you want more. This is incredible with salmon yet big enough for veal and pork dishes as well.
About The Winery:
GustavoThrace was founded in 1996 by partners Gustavo Brambila and Thrace Bromberger. This is now the 12th anniversary of the winery and it has been a true wonder to participate in the evolution from the decision to start a winery and make our own wines to becoming a nationally recognized and distributed brand of wine.
We started with 250 cases of wine in 1996 and in 2007 we harvested enough grapes to make over 3,000 cases under the GustavoThrace label. We specialize in tiny lots of only 200-300 cases of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Barbera, Petite Sirah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah.
We also make a GustavoThrace wine called “The Third Bottle”, our fabulous, value table wines from the Napa Valley. We are currently producing about 7,000 cases of wine under that label.
The winery is located at the south end of Napa and our tasting room is GustavoThrace at McKinstry at 1021 McKinstry, right across from the new OxBow Center, in Napa.
About Thrace Bromberger and Gustavo Brambila:
Bromberger was born and raised in Redlands, California. After graduating from the University of Maryland, she obtained a Master of Science in Small Business Management and Marketing and then a Law degree from Pepperdine University. After practicing law in Los Angeles, she moved to Napa in 1984. As a partner, Thrace assists in the cellar as well as doing the National sales and marketing for the winery and runs the tasting room by Oxbow at 1021 McKinstry.
Gustavo Brambila was born in Jalisco, Mexico. In 1957 he moved to Rutherford, California where his father worked for Beaulieu Vineyards. It was there as a child that Gustavo first met Mike Grgich, who was then the enologist at Beaulieu. After graduating from St. Helena High School he attended the University of Oregon on a baseball scholarship. After transferring to the University of California at Davis he graduated with a degree in Fermentation Sciences. In 1976 he began his wine-making career at Chateau Montelena. In 1977 he joined Grgich Hills Cellar as it opened and made wines there for twenty-three years. As a partner, Gustavo is the winemaker as well as the general manager for GustavoThrace.
The statue on our label is known as the “winged victory of Samothrace”. She is Nike, the Greek Goddess of victory. She was found in 1863 on the island of Samothrace in Greece and is now in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The City-state of Thrace is also the namesake of GUSTAVOTHRACE partner Thrace. We have chosen Nike for our label to represent the dreams and victories that we strive for in making these wines.