2010 J. Lohr Highlands Bench Chardonnay

The 2010 vintage was the coolest in the last decade and only slightly warmer than the record cool 1998 El Niño and 1999 La Niña vintages. In fact, 2010 was also a La Niña vintage, with 2,045 growing degree days (GDD) in the Gonzales area of the Santa Lucia Highlands - a very cool Region I (2000 - 2500 GDD). With the exception of two significant heat events in April and May, with temperatures exceeding 95 degrees Fahrenheit, the growing season was generally cool and foggy for the balance of May, June, July, and all but the last weeks of August. We thankfully witnessed Indian summer temperatures in early September, which provided the final push for fully ripening the inaugural vintage of J. Lohr Highlands Bench Chardonnay.

2010 J. Lohr Highlands Bench Chardonnay comes from the Escolle Road Vineyard, just west of the town of Gonzales in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA of Monterey. We were invited to partner with a group of friends - Gary Caraccioli, the Nunes and Hiyashi families - in 2006, to establish a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyard on Rianda family property. We participated in soil evaluation, vineyard layout and clone and rootstock selection, ultimately choosing the sandiest soils for Chardonnay planting. The clones selected were a Wente clone from Larry Hyde’s vineyard in Carneros, and a Robert Young selection from Sonoma County - both shy bearing, but very flavorful. The close proximity to Monterey Bay, the eastern slope and aspect, and the elevation above the Salinas Valley floor provide a cool, sunny, ideal environment for growing intensely flavored Burgundian varietals.


Appellation: Santa Lucia Highlands,
Monterey County
Composition 100% Chardonnay
Harvest Dates: October 5-20, 2010
Harvest Process: Hand-harvested at night, vineyard-pressed to 0.8 bars and settled
Harvest Chemistries: 25.9° Brix, pH 3.48,
0.66 g/100ml total acidity
Vinification: Yeast: Native fermentation, M2
Fermentation:  In barrel for an average of 17 days
Malolactic: Inoculated each barrel with Christian Hansen CH-11 strain of malolactic bacteria in October 2010. Completed malolactic fermentation in November 2010
Stirring: Weekly stirring of each barrel, starting November 2010 until March 2011 (during malolactic fermentation and five months post)
Post-Stirring: Monthly topping up of barrels with free sulfur dioxide and oxygen monitoring
Maturation: Aged in barrel sur lie for 18 months in 50% new oak
Barrel Type: French oak
Forest: A mix of Allier, Troncais, Nevers
Coopers: Mostly Francois Frères
Post-Maturation: 1 year bottle age prior to
Bottling Chemistries: pH: 3.5
Total Acidity: 0.72 g/100ml
Alcohol: 15.04 % by vol
Residual Sugar: 0.37 g/100ml
  Cases Produced: 787 (1,575 6-packs)
  Cellaring: Delicious now, but will gain complexity in the bottle through 2016

With attractive pale yellow color and bright, tropical fruit aromas of guava, passion fruit and pineapple, the 2010 Highlands Bench Chardonnay is balanced by a toasty, butterscotch bouquet from French barrel fermentation and aging. The flavors echo the aromas with guava juice and passion fruit and an incredibly rich, complex and mouthfilling density.
Jeff Meier, Winemaker

Pacific Rim cuisine, roast chicken with lemon and thyme, pistachio-encrusted halibut.

Price: $28.00 750ml

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