1999 Napa Valley Chardonnay

1999 was the second consecutive late vintage, with the entire growing season dominated by cool weather. Chardonnay, although an early-ripening variety, ripened a month later than average leading to a September - October harvest. The yield was lower than average; a small crop was forecast and it came in even lighter than anticipated.

vintage weather

Temperate Consistent. Average rainfall, cool spring and summer, excellent October weather. Below average crop size, the fruit attained full ripeness and flavors. Very good fruit chemistry.

tasting notes

Stylistically this vintage fits right into our signature Chardonnay. Smooth, soft and not overdone is the way we like to make Chardonnay. Although it seems at times we're still paddling upstream by not giving in to the expectation of oaky and buttery "California Chardonnay", Montelena Chardonnay is what it is: finely balanced fruit dominating the approach, big fruit in the middle and a clean refreshing finish. With time, all the richness and complexity from the vineyard, oak and yeast will begin to show. To maintain our style there is virtually no malo-lactic fermentation, which preserves the fruit freshness in the bottle, and no stirring of the yeast (batonnage), since those vitamin and toast flavors cover the bright fruit flavors and especially the aromas of ripe chardonnay grapes. The wine is aged on the fine yeast and it will evolve with bottle aging as the fruit softens over the next three or more years. Our new oak barrel use continues to be moderate, about 12 percent this vintage. This allows the fruit to be forward when the wine is young, with the oak adding a hint of spice to the wine and never obscuring your palate.

The '99 fits the profile of the cool vintage perfectly. When young, the nose will be almost reticent at first, with bright lemony green apple fruit backed by typical chardonnay spice. After a bit the intense fruit becomes apparent. On the palate it is very typical strong bright fruit, then really well balanced and supple in the middle and all the way to the finish, with lemon and spice backing up the green apple flavors. One thing that stands out is how long the pure fruit and palate flavors persist. It is complex but also bright and refreshing to the palate, and will disappear from the bottle at an astonishing rate since it is so smooth!

Harvest Date September 22 to October 4
Sugar At Harvest 23.8° to 25.5° brix
Barrel Aging 8 to 11 months
Bottling Date August 2000
Release Date Fall 2001
Cases Produced 7,900
Alcohol 13.8%