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Corley Family Napa Valley

Chris Corley
September 11, 2008 | Crush ! | Chris Corley

FERMENTATION CHECK: Home Ranch - Block 1 Chardonnay - Heirloom Clone

Posted By : Chris Corley

NOTE : We spend a lot of our time doing Fermentation Checks each day during harvest. As it relates to our blog, ‘FERMENTATION CHECK’ will be an opportunity for us to share our cellar activities with you in real time.


We picked our Heirloom Clone Chardonnay yesterday out of Block 1.  Some of you will remember these special grapes all the way back to 2000 when we bottled the first CORLEY Heirloom Clone Chardonnay. The grapes have a very unique flavor profile, almost muscat-like, which is very appealing and easily identifiable in the field as you pluck the fruit off the vines. The resulting wines are strong in tropical fruit characteristics like mango and papaya, and the grapes retain a vibrant acidity which keeps the ripeness in balance, and the texture of the wine fresh and compelling.

This year, as we did in 2007, we flagged each individual Heirloom Clone vine in the block as there some interplanted vines of another clone in this block. By flagging the individual vines for this lot, we maximize the opportunity to capture this special characteristic in the wine. We picked about 3.5 tons which will give us 9-10 barrels of wine. The juice will be pumped to barrels tomorrow (Friday) and will be fermented with wild yeasts and serenaded with Mexican opera throughout the fermentation (we've got a few crooners in the cellar !).

I'm very excited about the juice this year. It has a nice pale straw color and beautiful beam of acidity which will assert itself even more after the sugars are fermented through. The flavors are ripe and tropical ... I'm looking for commercial-size cocktail umbrellas to put in the barrels during the fermentation. If you see the cellar crew in hula skirts this year, no doubt it's the Heirloom Clone that's the culprit !

I'm anticipating that this wine will be a foundation lot for our 2008 Corley Reserve Chardonnay, so we'll be allocating about 60% new French oak barrels to this wine. The decision to put the wine through malolactic will be made pending the tasting after the primary fermentation is completed. We'll keep this fermentation running at about 55-60F, and I'll be tasting it as often as I can throughout with the excellent excuse that it's my job to !


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