Our second iteration, the 2019 Olivet Lane Late Harvest Chardonnay weighs in slightly drier than our first take at the style. Apple pie and baking spices sit prominent in the aromatic profile, with hints of salty coastal fog. Honeyed tones of toasted coconut, butterscotch, candied lemon peel, and grilled pineapple line the cheeks and tongue, with a light finish of cashew and cinnamon.
The Olivet Lane Vineyard, named for the mature olive trees lining the entrance, has been faithfully tended by the Pellegrini family for over 40 years. This prime Russian River Valley property is now expertly managed by 4th generation, Alexia Pellegrini. Originally an apple and plum orchard, the 70-acre property on West Olivet Road in Santa Rosa was purchased by the Pellegrini family in 1973. This prime Russian River Valley property was converted to a vineyard in 1975 with the planting of Pinot noir and Chardonnay.
One half of the vineyard’s 58 planted acres are dedicated to the Wente selection of Chardonnay. The Olivet Lane Vineyard is situated in the heart of the Russian River Valley’s low-lying Laguna de Santa Rosa Plain region, distinguished by the maritime fog influence sweeping up from the Pacific through the Petaluma Gap to the South. The cool climate extends the growing season, creating the opportunity for the grapes to ripen slowly and reach their full flavor potential while retaining their natural acidity, producing wines that are elegant and age-worthy.
The 2019 growing season was long, though punctuated by a bout of rain in late September. Followed by moderately warm, humid weather for 2 to 3 days, the vineyard experienced higher than normal botrytis pressure. We proceeded to harvest Chardonnay selectively, leaving clusters with signs of botrytis on the vine. Early November, we experienced multiple days of frost, which is abnormal for fall. Temperatures dropped to 24 degrees, causing leaves to brown and drop, exposing the cluster left on the vine. The next fall rain was on Thanksgiving day, providing ample hang time in the vineyard to reach optimal maturity.
Select Chardonnay clusters were hand-harvested by daylight, to aid in our selection of only the ripest choice clusters. Upon arriving at the winery, grapes were foot treaded in bin to assist in maceration and plumping of raisins. Left overnight in bin to soak out, the grapes were then gently basket pressed. To our delight, our press pan sugar sample was an astonishingly high 38 Brix. Juice was left to settle over Thanksgiving weekend, before being barreled down for fermentation. While fermenting in barrel, we went to work on the second component, brandy distilled from our estate Olivet Lane Chardonnay wine & lees. Using a copper pot still, we turned two kegs of our estate Chardonnay wine & lees into 5 gallons of distilled brandy. When the late harvest in barrel was down to 16 Brix, brandy was added to stop the fermentation process by killing the active yeast, allowing us to use very little sulfur in preventing spontaneous fermentation. Through the aging process, barrels were topped less often, in order to encourage controlled oxidation to complement the complexity of the botrytis.
Food Pairing Notes
Biscotti & ice cream. Caramelized onion, prosciutto, and gorgonzola tart.