It has taken us a long time to warm up to the idea of doing an unoaked style of Chardonnay. Really it is because we believe that not just any Chardonnay can be made in this style and have the complexity or character that we strive for in our wines. Finally we found a great site on Carter Mountain that we felt leant itself to a more mineral focused style of wine where austerity would be celebrated. This is that wine and we are thrilled with thet results.
||September 10, 2012
||22.2 avg brix
||5 months - mostly stainless steel
||Neutral Jupilles forest French oak
||BA11 yeast - mostly stainless steel
||March 15, 2013
The 2012 Almost Unoaked is a light straw colored wine that is all about delicacy. The aromas while still quite intense are full of primary fruit like green apple, lime zest and lemon drop but joined with some fabulous minerality and brioche type notes. The palate is medium bodied with great fruit, a nice toasty character and a creaminess about it. This wine will be best enjoyed young.
The Chardonnay that comes from Carter Mountain is a higher elevation site that gets cooler nights preserving acidity and is planted to clones that are about holding acidity and maintaining slightly lower and balanced sugars for better alcohol balance.
The 2012 is said to be one of winemaker Jordan Harris’ favorite vintages to date. While some vineyards around the state did suffer from a little too much rain at harvest, many of the sites that Tarara works with really got away lucky. Nevaeh in particular with the small rain shadow of the Catoctins and the weather patterns that follow the Potomac really meant that Nevaeh didn’t receive any rain through the 2012 harvest season. It only benefited from the slightly lower resulting temperatures of nearby rains and the lack of humidity.
In the end the 2012 season was about having some of the best balanced wines we have seen to date. The season started very early with an almost alarmingly warm and early spring causing bud-break in late March. It stayed warm so there were no significant frost issues that we were worried about. After that the summer never really heated up too much with the exception of the last two weeks of July and the first week of August. All together that put the harvest back on normal schedule which was superb since a worry we had was that we would need to harvest in the heat of the summer. The prolonged and generally mild season resulted in vibrant acidity, massive flavor concentration, moderate alcohol and beautifully ripe tannins. An overall very well balanced year unlike any we have seen in a long time.
The majority of this Chardonnay was handled very little and gently when it was. The grapes were whole cluster pressed in an anaerobic environment to ensure preservation of aromatics and limit and phenolic bitterness. The juice was settled over a 5 day period at 30 degrees prior to being racked and cool fermented. The fermentation took place in stainless steel with BA11 yeast at an average temperature of 56 degrees. The wine was racked after fermentation and inoculated to go through malo-lactic fermentation while we did monthly lees stirring for its 4 month elevage. We then felt that a small portion (18%) of the barrel fermented Chardonnay assisted in mouthfeel and complexity without deterring from the fresh style. The wine was then filtered and bottled while it still retained great fresh character.
The Almost Unoaked Chardonnay is great with simple grilled Mahi Mahi fish tacos with salsa verde, avocado, poblano, and queso fresco.