We grow 7 clones of Chardonnay on 7 of the chilliest acres in the vineyard. We farm an assortment of Old Wente and Dijon clonal selections of Chardonnay. Regardless of clone, our Chardonnays have a distinct signature that can best be described as a combination of chalky, citrus, apple and pear notes combined with vibrant energy from the brisk acidity. These are not rich, buttery and fat Chardonnay.
Among the roster of élite wineries where she worked before starting Peay Vineyards with Nick and Andy, Vanessa cut her teeth as winemaker at Peter Michael Winery. It was there that Vanessa learned how to make superior Chardonnay and she has adapted her approach to suit our cooler site.
Making Chardonnay at Peay
2016 Peay Vineyards Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
We have had a string of increasingly great Chardonnay vintages culminating in the superb 2016 Chardonnays. Ninety percent of the 2016 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is made from barrels of our Estate Chardonnay plus ten percent from Searby Vineyard farmed by Charlie Heintz in Occidental. The nose on the 2016 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is quite pretty featuring lemon merengue, white peach, ginger, and lemon thyme notes. The mouth confirms the nose though there is a pronounced lime and Granny Smith apple fruit profile that delightfully lights a path from the front of the palate to the finish. The wine has medium weight across the mid palate and also finishes with a salty, briny flavor on a clean, crisp, and long finish. Superb to enjoy now and will age beautifully due to the wonderful acidity and freshness of the style.
2015 Peay Vineyard Estate Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
With 17 years of vine age and a moderate growing season our Estate Chardonnay has evolved into a mature, nuanced expression that Peay Chardonnay drinkers will thoroughly enjoy. The ultimate impression of the 2015 Estate Chardonnay is grace and harmony. The nose emphasizes candied lemon, lemon verbena, and iodine. The mouthfeel is medium and silky though lively and decidedly not fat. The 2015 is truly a seamless Chardonnay with a smooth transition from the front of the palate to the long finish. It is not as round and rich as the 2009 or 2012 Estate Chardonnays and has less smokiness than the 2013 and less pear fruit than the 2014. Feel free to enjoy it now as all the pieces are in unison but with each year aging in bottle I suspect more nutty and waxy notes will contribute further complexity and enjoyment. This is my favorite Chardonnay we have released to date.
2015 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
All seven acres of Chardonnay from our estate vineyard were in full production and making excellent wine by 2014 so we were able to reduce the amount of purchased fruit for the 2015 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay to about 35% of the blend. This change led to the increased minerality and “Estate” flavor profile of the 2014 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and is evi- dent in the 2015, as well. The alluring and youthful nose of the 2015 emphasizes curd, golden delicious apple, and green banana aromas. I expect these youthful aromas to coalesce and diminish in richness with 1-2 years more in bottle but are quite attractive at this stage of development. The mouth has a silky, slightly oily texture that is round yet precise; a quality of Vanessa’s winemaking I find singular and extraordinary. The finish emphasizes our Estate Chardonnay’s mineral (think chalk, lead, stone) profile with excellent acidity and a medium to long finish.
2014 Peay Vineyards Estate Chardonnay
The 2014 Estate Chardonnay is superb and a classic version of our Chardonnay. The nose has a fennel, lemongrass, key lime and lemon thyme qualities with hints of green banana and smoke. It is not the least bit buttery or tropical in the nose. The palate is very consistent with the nose with medium body and great acidity keeping the wine fresh and bright. The mid-palate emphasizes lemon meringue, wet stone and pear notes. There is depth and a little richness but it is racy. This tastes like top-shelf Meursault from a producer who emphasizes purity and minerality over fat. There is a little less flintiness than the 2013 Estate with more lemon, floral, slate and fennel notes. Drink now as the oak is well-integrated and enjoy over the next 8+ years.
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