2005 Alexander Valley Reserve Chardonnay
The 2005 Reserve Chardonnay is golden straw yellow in color, with a faint greenish hue. It offers pleasurable aromatics of lemon candy, citrus blossom, wet stone and sweet oak. On the palate, the wine is big and creamy with layers of spicy pear, green apple skins, lemon drops and toasty oak, balanced by a refreshing acidity that segues to a lingering finish.
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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 sections of the vineyard.
The 2005 Reserve Chardonnay is crafted from a combination of older plantings of the famed Gauer Upper Barn clone, and more youthful clone 15 plantings. The Gauer clone fruit produces low yields of small concentrated berries, which bring flavors of Asian pear and spice to the blend, while the younger planting contribute vibrant floral and citrus elements.
With great weather in late February and early March the 2005 vintage started with an early bud break. Spring was cool and rainy, followed by a mild summer. Because of the rains we focused on canopy management, leaf pulling and the dropping of green clusters to counter the big growth. In mid-August gorgeous weather arrived just in time to help ripen everything to perfection while still keeping nice acidity in the fruit.
The 2005 Reserve Chardonnay was hand harvested in two rounds of picking. The clone 15 fruit was harvested on September 28 at 24.3 Brix, while the Gauer clone fruit came in on October 5 at 24.5 Brix. The two clones were whole cluster pressed and kept separate throughout fermentation. The clone 15 wine was fermented in puncheon, while the Gauer clone lot was fermented in French oak (50% new) with an emphasis on oak from Allier and Vosges. In order to enhance the intrinsic flavors of both lots, 100 percent indigenous yeasts were used. The wine was sur lie aged, with the lees being stirred over a 6-month period prior to blending. In total, the wine spent 13 months in barrel and over a half year in bottle. It was bottled unfiltered and as a result has a natural, hazy quality.