2006 was a cool and dry harvest in the Piccadilly Valley, accruing 1142°C days of heat during the growing season versus the average of 1172°C days. In October, the Tiers Vineyard was badly frosted for the first time since planting and two thirds of the crop was lost. Only those vines unaffected by frost were hand harvested for Tapanappa Tiers Vineyard 2006 Chardonnay.
The very small crop was initially delayed in its ripening processes by the frost but quickly caught up to be harvested slightly earlier than normal on the 31st of March. The analysis of the fruit at delivery was sugar 24.8 Brix, pH 3.3 and acid of 7.8gpl as tartaric.
The hand picked Tiers Chardonnay fruit was delivered to the winery adjacent to the vineyard. The fruit was de-stemmed and chilled to 5°C on the way to the air bag press. The cold juice was gravitated away from the skins and only light pressings were added back. A low level of SO2 was added to the juice on the way to the tank where the juice was allowed to settle for 4 days. The SO2 was the only addition to the juice prior to fermentation.
The clear juice was racked to new (70%) and 1 use (30%) oak barriques from the French forest of Vosges. A selected yeast strain, native to the vineyard, was added to initiate fermentation and the bacteria for the malo-lactic fermentation was added at the same time.
The primary fermentation was complete in 6 weeks after which the yeast lees were stirred in the barriques weekly until the malo-lactic fermentation was complete 2 months later. At the end of malo-lactic fermentation the wine was racked from barrique, SO2 was added and the wine was put back to sit on lees for a further 6 months.
After a total of 10 months in barrique, the 2006 Tapanappa Tiers Chardonnay was clear racked from barrique and prepared for bottling. The wine was bottled without filtration in February of 2007.
The in-bottle analysis of 2006 Tapanappa Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay is: Alcohol 13.5%, pH 3.16, total acid 6.8 gpl as tartaric, SO2 133 ppm, volatile acid 0.16 gpl.
The Taste of the Wine
Following the outstanding success of the 2005 Tapanappa Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay it is disappointing to have only 150 cases of the 2006 due to frost.
However, the vineyard terroir still dominates the 2006 Tapanappa Tiers Chardonnay, as it does the 2005. The aroma is complex but more nectarine than peach and the flavours are more latent although very intense and with high natural acid even after malo-lactic fermentation. This is a wine that opens up in the glass and will benefit from time in bottle. Typical of Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay, the 2006 has significant texture and length of flavour although the finish is suitably savoury.