We approach this Chardonnay with focus on freshness, precision and texture. This is a delicate line to walk, as it is easier to embrace a distinct style, such as tank-fermented and fresh, or oaky and textured. The wine was barrel fermented and aged, with primarily older French oak - and a bit of new northern European oak, coopered in Austria. It was bottled in July after ten months of lees aging; a technique employ for texture and mouthfeel, as we modify our farming for flavor, acidity and freshness. The result is a wine with the roundness and flavors of barrel aging, but also one that retains freshness and the energy of the vintage.
The 2021 vintage of Madison County Chardonnay displays the unique dynamic of season, clone and site. In 2015 we planted five different clones at Early Mountain, all of which play an important role in this wine. Three of clones contribute freshness and acid, while the remaining two, along with the Quaker run portion provide aromatic depth and texture. We also included Chardonnay from Capstone vineyard, which complements our Quaker Run and Early Mountain sites, providing even greater complexity, and elevating the fresh fruit aromas.
In the lively spirit of Virginia, 2021 was an exciting vintage for Early Mountain. It very much reflects the impact of site, with regions throughout the state experiencing highly varying climatic events, greatly influencing the dynamic range in fruit attributes.
Early spring, we gratefully saw few frost events, escaping significant fruit damage. Despite some early season rains, bloom-time in the vineyard was quite dry, allowing for a good fruit set. With warm daytime temperatures throughout most of the growing season, we saw high and even ripening throughout both Quaker Run and Early Mountain vineyards. The late season rains, leading to harvest were also accompanied by notable drying (this was doubly obvious when tending to our new plantings, which need water!). Overall, despite harvest-time rainfall, we could not have asked for a better result.