2006 Alexander Valley Reserve Chardonnay
This wine offers a golden straw color. The aromatics are intense with ripe tropical notes underscored by layers of buttery peach, sweet vanilla and spice. The palate is rich, balanced and full-bodied with a creamy texture, refreshing acidity and flavors of ripe pineapple, pear, lemon cream pie and vanilla.
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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 2006 Reserve Chardonnay is predominantly 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 plantings contribute vibrant floral and citrus elements.
After a wet cool spring, the 2006 growing season produced a mild summer with no major heat spikes, or unusually hot days. Chardonnay harvest began in late-September, allowing the fruit to come in at a relatively relaxed pace, and in excellent condition before the autumn rains arrived.
The 2006 Reserve Chardonnay fruit was hand harvested with both the clone 15 fruit and old-vine Gauer clone fruit coming in on September 25 at 24.5 and 25.2 Brix respectively. An additional selection of grapes from younger Gauer clone vines came in on September 27 at 25.5 Brix. All three lots were whole cluster pressed and kept separate throughout fermentation. The clone 15 wine was fermented in French oak puncheons, while the Gauer clone lots were fermented in French oak barrels (40% new) with an emphasis on oak from Allier and Vosges. To enhance the 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 16 months in barrel and a half year in bottle. It was bottled unfiltered and as a result has a natural, hazy quality.