The Chardonnay grapes were picked from 5- to 31-year-old vines from select portions of 8 vineyard blocks, which are planted at an elevation of 1433 to 1483 feet. This year’s selection comprised of 7 Chardonnay clones – 5 Burgundian clones plus California clone 04 and the acclaimed heritage Wiemer Selection, It is that combination of clonal material that results in a wine of complexity with layer upon layer of lingering flavors we seek for our Mountain Select Chardonnay.
The beginning of the 2019 growing season was defined by abundant winter rainfall that lasted into late spring. The late soil moisture aided the vine’s growth once the vine came out of winter dormancy. Warm, dry conditions during were favorable to uniform berry set within the cluster. The long, warm summer saw very few extreme heat events during the day. The cool early morning temperature that is common for the high elevation Chardonnay vineyards set the stage for vibrant and expressive wines. The 2019 Chardonnay harvest began on September 13 and ended on October 19. The long, mild finish to the season helped to preserve freshness and finesse in the fruit with this abundant hang time.
As harvest nears each vintage, the Antica winegrowing team meticulously selects those mountain blocks, or rows within a block, that best highlight the characteristics for our desired style of Chardonnay. Approximately 18% of the estate’s 2019 Chardonnay harvest was selected for the final blend of the Mountain Select Chardonnay.
To maintain ultimate control of wine quality and style, the Antinori family’s guiding winemaking principle has been to own their own vineyards and grow their own grapes. This belief holds true with the historic family-owned vineyards in Tuscany and Umbria and extends to Napa Valley. The 1,210-acre Antica Napa Valley estate occupies an elevated plateau tucked in an amphitheater-like setting of steep mountain tops rising to Atlas Peak with an elevation of 2,663 feet. There are approximately 550 acres planted to vineyard, 30% of which are Chardonnay planted in 15 individual blocks. Each block is a carefully planned combination of alluvial soil composition, high elevation (which provides extreme night-time cooling during the summer and fall months) and clonal selections that together result in a pure expression of Chardonnay aromas and flavors.
The Chardonnay grapes were hand harvested in the cool, early morning hours and immediately taken to the winery. After whole cluster crushing, the berries were placed in the press for a very gentle release of the Chardonnay free run juice. The juice was chilled further in stainless steel tank and allowed to settle for 24 hours before the yeast inoculation. The juice was then transferred to French oak barrels (50% new) to complete primary fermentation in the estate’s naturally temperature-controlled wine cave. The wine remained in contact with the lees (sur lie) in the barrel for approximately 10 months, during which time the wine underwent the malolactic fermentation. When aging was complete, the wine in each barrel was carefully evaluated for the final Mountain Select blend.