Grgich Hills Estate
2006 Napa Valley Chardonnay
Chardonnay •Estate Grown
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s selection from Grgich Hills Estate deserves special recognition as a vastly superior wine. If you love great Chardonnay, be warned, this wine is beyond great!
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Mission Codename: The Best Ever
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Taste six Napa Valley Chardonnays and choose the best one of the group
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Grgich Hills Estate
Wine Subject: 2006 Napa Valley Chardonnay
Winemaker: Miljenko “Mike” Grgich
Backgrounder: In 1976, Mike Grgich rocked the wine world by creating a California that beat out French Chardonnays in the now famous Judgment of Paris. The French were outraged, and Mike Grgich earned the respect of wine drinkers and critics, worldwide. Today, Mike continues to oversee production of what have been heralded as “the finest wines in the world”. We are very proud to be able to bring you today’s fantastic Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes, followed by his mission report, below.
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 – Bright straw to golden-yellow, with perfect continuity of color from heart to edge. On swirling this wine, it shows a slow and bouncy surface, hinting at the velvet mouth feel to some. When the wine settled, it leaves behind slender and slow-moving legs
Smell – Tender aromas of green apple, peach and ripe pear with hints of citrus and toasted oak and subtle components of nutmeg and soft minerals
Feel – Beautifully round and velvet smooth, slightly viscous and perfectly smooth, this medium-bodied white gently fills up the palate and has great structure
Taste – Sweet green apple and pears with a balanced acidity, delicate minerality, hints of citrus, acacia and soft oak
Finish – A brilliant long and clean finish with soft, lingering flavors of pear, lime and softly spicy oak. Add to this a lovely minerality and you have a finish that tastes great and feels great, too
Conclusion – An exceptional Chardonnay that reveals just how great Chardonnay – from any region of the world – can be. Under the guiding hand of Mike Grgich, this wine represents that best of the best. With beautiful aromatics, great flavors and an incredible feel, this is a supple and elegant wine that I absolutely love. At a recent covert tasting panel, this wine absolutely swept the panel to become the best white of the tasting that night. If you are looking for the perfect summertime sipper that is as home with a fine meal as it is on its own, then I could not recommend this wine more heartily!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Miljenko “Mike” Grgich
DATE OF BIRTH: April 1st, 1923
PLACE OF BIRTH: Desne, in Croatia’s coastal Dalmatian region
WINE EDUCATION: Attended University of Zagreb. Field of study, viticulture and enology
CALIFORNIA WINERIES EXPERIENCE: Christian Brothers Cellars, Souverain Winery, Robert Mondavi and Beaulieu Vineyard (with André Tchelistcheff)
FOUNDED NAMESAKE WINERY: Grgich Hills Cellar, founded 1977, renamed to Grgich Hills Estate in 2006
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: To, “… year after year, is to improve the quality of [the] vineyards and [the] wines” and to, “… remain committed to making distinctive wines with quality, consistency and longevity”.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Chardonnay
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: In 1976, Mike Grgich’s Chateau Montelena Chardonnay won the infamous Judgement of Paris tasting, to become the best Chardonnay in the world. The fact that a California wine won the tasting shocked the wine world – and spurned Mr. Grgich on to great success with his own winery
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: On March 7, 2008, in recognition of his impact and contribution to the wine industry, Mr. Grgich was inducted into the Vintner Hall of Fame. The honor coincided with his 50th vintage of winemaking in the Napa Valley
GRGICH QUOTE: “For years, everybody in the world believed that only French soils could produce great wines. We shattered that myth. That was probably the most significant result of the Paris tasting. Our victory pumped new energy into the California wine industry, particularly in the Napa Valley.”
BLACK BERET: Mr. Grgich wears an ever present black beret. It is rumored that the beret is imbued with magical energies that power his winemaking talents. Further investigation is required…
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Grgich Hille Estate winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
This is the first vintage that our Chardonnay vineyards were certified organic and Biodynamic. Beautifully balanced between acid, flavors and body, this Chardonnay displays notes of lemon zest, flowers and honey with a hint of crushed stones. Let the wine’s elegance shine by matching it with simple preparations of baked halibut, roasted chicken, grilled shrimp or pork, or pasta with a light cream sauce.
VINTAGE: 2006 was a cool vintage in general, starting with a wet winter and spring that delayed budbreak and led into a slow, even, ripening of the grapes. Then a heat spike in July helped the grapes catch up to a normal physiological ripeness followed by an unusually cool August that allowed the grapes to completely ripen without dehydrating. Thanks to our organic and Biodynamic® farming, the vines remained healthy throughout the temperature swings, providing us with fully ripe, favorful grapes in September.
VINEYARD: This is the ﬁrst vintage that our Chardonnay vineyards were certiﬁed organic and Biodynamic. Our cool American Canyon and Carneros vineyards sit in the southern tip of Napa Valley, not far from San Pablo Bay, which spills into San Francisco Bay, and they’re in the perfect spots to grow Chardonnay. The coolness allows the grapes to develop complex ﬂavors while maintaining a pleasing natural acidity that is impossible to achieve in warmer areas.
THE WINE: As always, we did not allow the Chardonnay to undergo malolactic fermentation and our Biodynamic farming created a wine that is alive with delicious acidity. The relatively cool vintage yielded a beautifully balanced Chardonnay with notes of lemon zest, ﬂowers and honey with a hint of crushed stones. Let this wine’s elegance shine by matching it with simple preparations of baked halibut, roasted chicken, grilled shrimp or pork, or pasta with a light cream sauce.
About The Winery:
Miljenko “Mike” Grgich first gained international recognition at the celebrated “Paris Tasting” of 1976. Then, in a now-historic blind tasting, a panel of eminent French judges swirled, sniffed, and sipped an array of the fabled white Burgundies of France and a small sampling of upstart Chardonnays from the Napa Valley. When their scores were tallied, the French judges were shocked: they had chosen Mike’s 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay as the finest white wine in the world. Mon Dieu! The results stunned the international wine establishment and immediately earned Mike a reputation as one of the greatest winemakers in the world.
The Paris Tasting served notice to the world that the California wine industry was on the move, and it laid the groundwork for the creation of Grgich Hills Cellar. After his victory in Paris, Mike sat down with Austin Hills and his sister, Mary Lee Strebl, from the Hills Bros. Coffee family, and on Independence Day 1977, they gave birth to Grgich Hills. It was an ideal partnership. Austin owned premium vineyards in Rutherford, in the heart of the Napa Valley, and with his extensive background in business, he put the winery on its financial feet. Mike, with his fierce commitment to making wines of the highest quality, began producing what immediately became our signature wine: the exquisite, richly complex Chardonnays that win awards and delight wine lovers across America and throughout the world.
Today, we remain committed to making distinctive wines with quality, consistency and longevity. We are proud that world leaders such as Presidents Reagan and Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II and French President François Mitterrand chose our wines to serve at state dinners, but we are just as proud that every single day discriminating wine drinkers count on Grgich Hills to turn their own dinners into special occasions.
As always, we treat each of our six different wines as a special child, carefully nurturing their development and character. Our main pride and joy is our Chardonnay, an elegant example of the varietal displaying rich flavors and exquisite balance. As a complement to the Chardonnay, we also produce a refreshingly crisp Fumé Blanc, a rich and spicy Zinfandel, a Cabernet Sauvignon with tremendous depth and complexity, a lush and richly fragrant Merlot, and a luscious dessert wine named “Violetta,” in honor of Mike’s daughter, Violet.
Now 85 years old, and still sporting his signature blue beret, Mike was inducted into the Vinter Hall of Fame in March 2008 in honor of his many contributions to the wine industry. While many other Napa wineries pursue strategies of expansion, Mike, along with his daughter, Violet, and his nephew, Ivo Jeramaz, prefer to stay small. Their aim, year after year, is to improve the quality of their vineyards and their wines, relying on Mike’s unique artistic and intuitive touch. This strategy continues to pay significant dividends. Many wineries buy their grapes from outside vineyards. Grgich Hills now owns all of its own vineyards, all of which are certified organic and Biodynamic. Beginning with the 2003 vintage, all Grgich Hills wines are labeled “Estate Grown.” This guarantees a consistently superior level of quality, and it guarantees that Grgich Hills will remain a shining symbol of prestige and good taste. In recognition of that important milestone, the winery changed its name in 2007 to Grgich Hills Estate.
Alcohol: 14.3% by volume
Fermentation: indigenous yeast
Harvest: Sept. 20-30, 2006
Sugar: 23.5˚- 24.5˚Brix
Bottling date: August 6-9, 2007
Release date: July 2008
Total acid: 6.9 g/L
Time in oak: Fermented and aged 10 months
Type of oak: French oak: 60% neutral barrels, 30% new, 10%, 900 gallon casks
Production: 24,074 cases (12/750 ml.), 2,019 cases (12/375 ml.), 61 cases (6/1.5 L)