2008 Chardonnay, Pastorale Vineyard
100% estate-grown Sonoma Coast Chardonnay from Pastorale Vineyard.
We were excited to finally bottle this wine after 16 months of care and attention to this limited, specialized production. Before pressing, the whole grape clusters were lightly crushed by stomping on the grapes in the bins in order to liberate some grape solids and help facilitate the extraction process during pressing. This created a wine with amazing density. The bouquet offers up hints of toasted hazelnuts, freshly baked brioche, lemon mousse and crushed, wet rocks. The first sip is lean and crisp, but soon the palate is coated with flavors of lemony crème brûlée, stone fruits, green apples and a very subtle touch of coriander.
The extremely slow, native fermentation in a large oak puncheon, and the bi-monthly bâtonnage, allowed for the development of the golden hue as well as the rich, creamy and toasty characteristics that persist on the palate.
The 2008 vintage was a dry year overall and continued the streak of above-normal temperatures and below normal precipitation. Despite the dry conditions, there was good berry set in both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, producing a substantial crop of balanced and flavorful fruit.
Because of severe frost in late March/early April, Freestone lost ~50% of estate Chardonnay. On the other hand, because of close proximity to the coast, it was unaffected by the major fires that broke out during the peak growing season, so all the wines are fresh, lively and free of any signs of smoke taint. The early part of the growing season was warm and steady, allowing for fairly even ripening in both varietals.
Beginning on September 1st a strong heat wave came through and began to dehydrate the delicate Pinot Noir grapes. Though the Chardonnay held up well under this pressure, the biggest challenge of the vintage was to harvest all of the most susceptible Pinot Noir blocks before temperatures soared above 100°F; therefore, the focus was on Pinot Noir, with all fruit harvested between September 3rd and September 27th. The Chardonnay harvest began with the warmer Russian River Bacigalupi vineyard on September 2nd, followed by Dutton Ranch on September 10th. The bulk of estate Chardonnay came in slowly between September 11th and October 1st.
Though the latter part of the growing season was unusually warm, the wines are quite vibrant, balanced and aromatic, and are a great follow-up to the highly successful 2007 vintage.