Trefethen Family Vineyards
2007 Estate Chardonnay
Chardonnay •Estate Grown
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Liquid Sunlight
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Seek out one of the best Napa Valley Chardonnays
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Trefethen Family Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2007 Estate Chardonnay
Winemaker: Zeke Neeley
Backgrounder: In 1979, Trefethen 1976 Chardonnay was named “Best Chardonnay in the World” at the Gault Millau World Wine Olympics in France, beginning our 30-year tradition of excellence with this most popular of white wines. Key to our success is our vineyard’s location in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, where well-drained, loamy soils and a marine-influenced climate yield Chardonnay grapes with rich, balanced flavors. Read Agent White’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 – Pale straw yellow with golden yellow-honey reflections through its crystal clear core. When swirled, widely spaced legs of varying speeds descends to the wine below.
Smell – Medium in intensity, but very pretty in character, with aromas of ripe melon and tart green apple. Notes of sweet toasted oak and a very slight butter and honey component emerges with a a touch of minerality and white flowers.
Feel – Smooth and dry, this medium-bodied white has an excellent mouth-feel that balances its creaminess and crisp minerality almost perfectly.
Taste – Lovely green fruit (pear and apple) and tropical melon with a subtle Meyer lemon kick. The restrained oak, vanilla cream, butter and herbal spice emerges as this wine glides over the palate as the minerality keeps everything in check.
Finish – This wine finishes long and clean with lingering flavors of refreshing green apple and subtle mineral hints that blend with this wine’s lovely creamy texture, begging for another sip.
Conclusion – The 2007 Trefethen Family Vineyards Estate Chardonnay is a lovely California Chardonnay with an extremely well balanced flavor and texture. Crisp and refreshing without being overly tart. Restrained and elegant, we enjoyed this wine with herb crusted grilled chicken.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Zeke Neeley
DATE OF BIRTH: September, 1971
PLACE OF BIRTH: California
WINE EDUCATION: B.S. Biochemistry, M.S. Viticulture & Enology U.C. Davis
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: 3 years Bonny Doon Vineyards (Santa Cruz, CA), 2 years Schug Carneros Winery (Sonoma, CA), and approaching 2 years at Trefethen Family Vineyards here in Napa, CA.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: A winemaker is part chef, part scientist, and part fermentation guidance counselor.
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Chardonnay
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Making wine for Trefethen Family Vineyards. . . living the dream!
AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Zeke. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Trefethen Family Vineyards Estate Chardonnay today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
WINEMAKER: Who’s talking? Where are you? Oh, I didn’t see you hiding behind the curtain.
WHITE: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
WINEMAKER: My wife and I would often go wine tasting in Napa and it was there that I developed not only a love of wine but a fascination for the process of winemaking.
WHITE: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
WINEMAKER: I know that most winemakers say that they learned the most about winemaking on their first job but I learned the most in school. Winemaking was my second career and I went to graduate school not to get a degree but to learn everything that my professors knew about winemaking.
WHITE: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
WINEMAKER: I’m shooting for balanced wines that accentuate the positive attributes of our estate grown fruit here in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley.
WHITE: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
WINEMAKER: My predecessor here at Trefethen Family Vineyards, Peter Luthi, and the Dry Rieslings that he has made over the years. The chance to work with Peter and that fruit spurred me on to take this job.
WHITE: How long have you been making wine?
WINEMAKER: In reality, the yeast make the wine. We just fool them into doing what we want. I have been involved in fooling yeast for 6 vintages.
WHITE: Who do you make wine for?
WINEMAKER: We strive to make wines that the Trefethen family enjoys. Unfortunately, we make several thousand cases more than the family can get through in a year so we sell the excess.
WHITE: Tell me, what makes the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley so special?
WINEMAKER: The Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley is a climate sweet spot between the cooler Carneros district and the hot Rutherford district. Like Goldilock’s experience with baby bear’s porridge, we are “just right.” I find that too cool regions often result in thinner wines and too warm regions syrupy wines. This goes back to the pursuit by Trefethen Family Vineyards for balance.
WHITE: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
WINEMAKER: If you are still passionate about wine after cleaning your hundredth steel tank, this might be the career for you.
WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
WINEMAKER: We are tasting wines still in barrel and coming up with the best possible blends for our upcoming bottling. As an example, we have 58 different lots of Chardonnay from which to find the optimal blend for our 2009 estate Chardonnay. Every lot of Chardonnay that was picked from a different area of our vineyard or picked on a different day is kept separate until we make the blend. Sometimes we further complicate the matter by making two lots from a single lot of grapes by deciding to ferment half in steel tank and half in French oak barrels. Determining the final blend can be quite challenging, but spending hours every day getting paid to taste wine makes up for any aggravation caused by the process.
WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
WINEMAKER: The 2007 Trefethen Estate Chardonnay is an elegant and balanced Chardonnay. The aroma is a combination of lemon cream with spicy-floral notes. With a full velvety palate balanced by a citrus acidity, this wine is sure to please any lover of Napa Chardonnay.
WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
WINEMAKER: I especially like the 2007 Trefethen Estate Chardonnay as an accompaniment to cream-based seafood dishes. I’ve had it pair beautifully with scallops and risotto as well as, on a cold winter night, a nice comforting bowl of clam chowder.
WHITE: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
WINEMAKER: I’m a baseball fan and I don’t care who knows!
WHITE:What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
WINEMAKER: The 2007 Double T Red wine is always well stocked at my house.
WHITE: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
WINEMAKER: Drink what you like and don’t be afraid to explore your local wine shop. Be adventurous and don’t let your own preconceptions or the advice of any so-called expert keep you from trying a wine. Winemakers, critics, and consumers—we are all students of wine.
WHITE: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
WINEMAKER: If I am disregarding price and availability, I would also like to disregard the space-time continuum and travel back 130 years to taste the Bordeaux of long ago.
WHITE: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
WINEMAKER: What is my favorite color? It is green.
WHITE: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
WINEMAKER: This interview will self-destruct in 5. . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . .
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Trefethen Family Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
GOLD MEDAL – 2007 Chardonnay Concours Mondial de Bruxelles
About This Wine:
In 1979, Trefethen 1976 Chardonnay was named “Best Chardonnay in the World” at the Gault Millau World Wine Olympics in France, beginning our 30-year tradition of excellence with this most popular of white wines. Key to our success is our vineyard’s location in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, where well-drained, loamy soils and a marine-influenced climate yield Chardonnay grapes with rich, balanced flavors.
The Vintage: After a relatively dry winter, both budbreak and bloom came earlier than usual. The lower soil moisture meant that foliage growth was easily controlled and the grapes enjoyed ample sunshine during a beautiful summer with nearly ideal growing conditions. The cooler than usual weather in August and September slowed sugar accumulation resulting in typical harvest dates despite the early start to the season
The Wine: "Liquid sunlight” in the glass, our Chardonnay delights the palate with aromas of poached pear, lemon cream, toasted brioche, and bright white honeysuckle. A full, viscous mouth is balanced by classic Trefethen fruit – bright and crisp pear and lemon. A little vanilla, butterscotch, and cooking herbs linger in the background and tickle the tongue during a nice, long finish.
Food Affinities: The balance of grape acidity and toasty oak in our 2007 Chardonnay will delight any creamy dish, especially if it includes scallops or risotto. Try seasoning with thyme and oregano.
Our Estate Vineyard:
Our primary estate vineyard is located in the heart of the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley AVA, which occupies an ideal climate zone between Napa’s warmer up-valley districts and its cool southern tip. The marine influence of nearby San Pablo Bay allows our estate Chardonnay grapes to ripen slowly and evenly, developing concentrated flavors while retaining high levels of acidity.
In 1968, our family purchased seven farms surrounding a magnificent, but run-down, 19th-century winery in southern Napa Valley and created Trefethen Family Vineyards. At the time, there were fewer than 30 working wineries in Napa Valley. True to our original vision of creating a classic wine estate, we have never purchased a single outside grape. Instead, we lavish extraordinary care on our two sustainably farmed estate vineyards in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley. Controlling all viticultural practices allows us to produce grapes with pure, intense flavors beautifully reflecting our unique terroir.
Varietal: 100% Chardonnay
Appellation: Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley
Estate Vineyard: 100% Main Ranch
Harvest: September 4-28
Oak: 8 months in French
Alcohol: 14.1% by volume
Bottled: August 2009