I have been leaning toward extending barrel aging beyond 12 months for this vineyard in recent vintages. While it delays both bottling and release of the wine, it also seems to round out the wine with good things (like mannoprotiens) ‘leaking out’ of the spent yeast in the barrel. This process appears to take much of what the yeast took out of the grapes and return it back to the wine — adding more layers to the aromas and flavors and increasing texture. The young Fort Ross Vineyard Chardonnays seemed to have a signature tangerine note. It is starfruit for the Helfers, and lime for the Scherrers. Interestingly, these kinds of youthful notes are preserved well with longer barrel time while the bubble-gum ‘baby-fat’ is not. Due to the relatively early harvest date at the Scherrer Vineyard, this was harvested before the famous 2004 heat spell, so it was fermenting merrily inside our cool cellar with all its nuances intact.
The nose is lightly perfumed, with a mild Riesling-esque hint, that typical lime thing, rain on freshly tilled soil, and even a slight trace of pineapple. On the mouth, it enters bright, full, and clean, showing a very slight toastiness that supports adult-style dryness, minerality and good mouth-watering acidity, finally bringing us back to that trace of lime. As the initial duo of minerality and acidity lift, a full texture and oiliness come and go in a slow wave. I think this wine hits a sweet spot between ballerina and belly dancer.