2018 Napa Valley Chardonnay
Paradoxically, the “easy” or “straightforward” vintages can be the most difficult for me as a winemaker. The media, critics, and industry representatives tend to praise classic California vintages as a tide that lifts all ships, providing a simple, neat narrative that makes for clean headlines and a universal endorsement of the resulting wines. And they’re correct. For those wineries making high-volume, formulaic products, these vintages can be a godsend. But for us at Montelena, the challenge becomes how to artfully craft the mosaic, that beautiful composition of the disparate parts of each vineyard block into something truly captivating and nuanced, amidst so much uniformity. 2018 certainly qualifies in that it would have been tantalizingly easy to fall into the rut of recipe-driven, prescribed process. Thus our objective became how to highlight subtlety; how to tactfully magnify the shades of flavor that are so easily obscured by the abundant sunshine. It’s a unique mindset in that we actively search for and embrace the challenge. It’s the Montelena way.
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