Stuhlmuller Vineyards is located at the southern edge of the Alexander Valley, where it converges with two other highly regarded Sonoma County appellations, Chalk Hill and the Russian River Valley. On its eastern edge, the 150-acre vineyard borders the Russian River. Situated in a unique location that is part river benchlands and part hillside, the vineyard benefits from its alluvial gravel soils and the more rocky soils that comprise the hillside.
Five blocks of Chardonnay are planted in the well-drained, benchland soils. The famous Gauer Upper Barn clone, one of California’s most sought-after Chardonnay selections, comprises 80 percent of these vines. The 2010 Estate Chardonnay is crafted from a mix of Gauer and clone 4 fruit. From the Gauer clone, the Chardonnay derives flavors of Asian pear, spice and a natural nuttiness, while the clone 4 grapes contribute mild tropical flavors.
The 2010 vintage was one of the coolest in decades. Cool-to-moderate temperatures with lots of fog continued well into summer, until things warmed up in September, starting with a big heat spike at the beginning of the month. The September warmth kick-started the ripening, and we began a protracted harvest in the third week of September that went all the way into November. Yields were fine in 2010, and the cool weather delivered grapes with fresh, pure varietal flavors at lower alcohols and with good acidity.
To accentuate the signature fruit and natural nuttiness of our estate grapes, we fermented this wine with 100% indigenous yeasts. Aging occurred in both barrels (88%) and larger casks (12%), all of which were French oak (7% new). The wine was fermented sur lie for 8 months and underwent 45% indigenous malolactic fermentation.
This is our lowest alcohol Chardonnay to date. As a result it offers beautiful citrus and lemon custard aromas as well as lovely orchard fruit notes. Flavors of green pineapple, pear, orange blossom and apple are revealed on the palate, supported by bright, food-friendly acid and subtle textural notes imparted from the French oak and sur lie aging.