Sta. Rita Hilla
Despite vintage variability and the vagaries of the winemaking process there is a fabulous elegance that this wine exhibits year after year. In 2005 the acidity level of these chardonnay grapes was extremely high, and we struggled to get the wine to complete the acidity-softening malo-lactic fermentation. We stirred the lees at the bottom of the barrels twice a month for over a year to encourage this secondary fermentation. This difficult fermentation marked the wine with a delightful aroma of toasted bread and a lovely golden color, but it still emphatically says Clos Pepe chardonnay!
The combination of a cool climate site and the Pepe’s selection of the less commonly available chardonnay clone 76 makes this quite different from a typical California chardonnay. There is none of the tropical fruity thing going on-it is so much more refined and serious. One wine taster who visited us described it as “grown-up chardonnay”– I think that description is just right.
Blend: 100% Chardonnay | Alcohol: 14.0% | Vinification: 100% Neutral French Oak | Barrel Aging: 12 Months | Total Production: 371 cases
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar
“Green-tinted yellow. Leesy nectarine and orange pith scents are reined in by talc-y minerality and fresh herbs. Firm and focused, offering juicy citrus flavors and good spicy cut. Fleshy but restrained on the long, spicy finish. This has excellent cling.” – JR 90 Points
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
“Another brilliant effort is the 2005 Chardonnay Clos Pepe. Hazelnut, orange rind, lemon zest, and brioche characteristics are found in this crisp, elegant Chardonnay that could pass for a full-bodied French Chablis. With fine acidity, fruit, and concentration.” -RP 93 Points