One of the vital steps to crafting a great Chardonnay involves lees, residual yeast cells that remain in contact with the wine during fermentation and aging. The lees help give Chardonnay its round mouthfeel and mild tannins.
When fermentation and aging are complete, we rack our Chardonnay from the lees, leaving the yeast cells as a by-product. In keeping with our philosophy of reducing, reusing and recycling whenever possible, we give our lees to a distiller who specializes in extracting the alcohol left in lees for other commercial uses.
Racking typically takes place in our cellars mid-December through early January. Our 2009 Russian River Valley Chardonnay finished racking on January 6 and is now resting in French oak barrels in our cellars. The 2009 is a continuation of our progression toward less malolactic fermentation, which began with the 2007 vintage. Less malolactic gives our Chardonnay a vibrant, balanced structure highlighting the green apple and pear fruit characters. The 2009 Jordan Chardonnay will release in spring 2011.
Here’s a quick video of the Chardonnay being racked from the lees.