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CHARDONNAY - 2018
This is the first vintage of La Grande Lumière Chardonnay, a wine more than thirty years in the making. Since 1988, when the Indelicato family purchased the San Bernabe Vineyard. The present estate includes a mix of gently rolling hills, alluvial terraces, benchlands and foothills, which together offer a wide range of exposures and soils types. Today, the Indelicatos farm the top one-fourth of the vines in the San Bernabe AVA, all of which have been replanted to maximize quality rather than quantity, with a precise match of ideal variety, clone and rootstock to the micro-terroir of each vineyard block.
A bright, golden hue, the wine opens with fragrant aromas of lemon, Asian pear, and ripe pineapple. On the palate, it’s soft and silky, with delicate, detailed flavors of baking spice, golden apple, vanilla wafers, and hints of nuts. A touch of acidity rounds out the palate and balances its lusciousness.
– Winemaker, James Ewart
The 2018 Monterey growing season was superb, delivering the kind of classically cool and moderate coastal weather that makes San Bernabe Vineyard an ideal home for Burgundian varieties. Mild temperatures, overnight fog, and strong afternoon winds provided extra hang-time, allowing grapes to achieve great phenolic ripeness while retaining acidity. With no significant heat spikes, grapes at San Bernabe Vineyard ripened slowly and evenly, leading to excellent fruit quality and a textbook harvest timeline.
The San Bernabe Estate offers a diverse range of soils, from ancient aeolian sand dunes to marine soils rich in limestone. Aeolian soils are free-draining and low in vigor, which encourages the vines to develop deep root systems and naturally limits their fertility. During the summer, dramatic diurnal temperature shifts—as much as 40 degrees on a hot day—are driven by onshore winds, funneled southeast from the Monterey Bay through the Salinas River Valley to San Bernabe. This cooling influence is critical to grape quality, allowing for slow, even grape maturation, and for the development of a complex range of fruit flavors in Chardonnay. Typically, these range from apple and stone fruit to tropical characters such as pineapple and guava depending on clone and location within the vineyard. All but two of the nine barrels selected for this wine come from Limestone Ridge, which is a section of Vineyard Block 218A. This is a ridge of limestone in the cooler, northwest corner of the vineyard, planted to Chardonnay clones 4 and 95, and represents the middle section of the block, about 35 vines wide. This strip of calcareous soils was discovered in the years after the vineyard was replanted; grapes from this section consistently ripen differently from the vines around them, showing higher acidity, distinctive citrus flavors and greater minerality. The remaining portion of the blend comes from blocks planted to Clone 17 and Clone 4, whose fruit adds a tropical lushness to the wine. The grapes were hand-picked over the course of a week.
Diora’s veteran winemaker, James Ewart, and his team, work out of a small-lot winery built in the vineyard in 2013. Fruit were picked and rushed to the winery, where it was gently pressed into oak barrels for primary fermentation. After finishing alcoholic fermentation, the lots underwent malolactic fermentation. Lees were stirred once a month to add silkiness and roundness to the texture, as well as subtle buttery notes. The yeasts added were QA23 and CY3079. QA23 is known to enhance thiols, and aromas of lime and grapefruit. CY3079, when left on lees, helps to contribute characters such as fresh butter, hazelnut, and vanilla. James Ewart and his team tasted the barrels periodically and selected their 9 favorite barrels for this wine. After assembling the blend, the wine went back to once-used French oak barrels, for a total of 10 months aging in oak.
This wine was barrel fermented and sur lie barrel-aged for ten months and stirred once a month. The wine saw 100% new French and American oak—primarily from coopers Damy Voges and Cadus. The Damy Vosges long-toast barrels give the wine nice length and slightly toasty notes. The Cadus barrels contribute a vanilla-edged sweetness and depth.
Varietal: ChardonnayAppellation: San Bernabe Estate Vineyard
Aging: 10 months, French and American oak (100% new)
Malolactic Fermentation: 100%
Alcohol: 14.5% by volume
Cases Produced: 195
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