Flavors of butterscotch, honeysuckle, grilled peaches, mineral and spices complement the wonderful acidity. Aromas of Meyer lemon, pear, Pink Lady apple, white peach, ginger bread, quince, melon and tropical fruit salad fill your senses, followed by roasted marshmallows after time in the glass. Stimulating and rich flavors of ginger spice, baked pink lady apples and pear combine with even-handed acidity to produce a creamy textured wine underpinned with a hint of flintiness and seamless oak. A wine to be enjoyed now or with bottle age. Very focused throughout the palate, the stone fruit flavors give way to lemon verbena, minerals and a firm peach pit finish. A rich chardonnay, complemented by a hint of toasty oak that will age as well as our Pinot Noirs.
The Drake Estate Vineyard is located right on the Russian River near Guerneville, and it has the same Yolo Sandy Silt Loam soil as found in many of the very best vineyards along Westside Road. Originally planted to Rome apples—a late-ripening variety—the property has proven itself an exceptional location for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The 2010 vintage produced wines reflective of each individual vineyard site and appellation with concentrated aromas, rich fruit flavors, nicely balanced acidity and supple tannin structure. The hallmark of the 2010 vintage is one of extremes; between cool, early season temperatures and extreme late season heat, wines of tremendous character were made through careful attention to detail.
Above average rainfall in the winter months ended the streak of several average water years and ensured ample soil moisture for early season growth. Bud break initiated in late March and was somewhat delayed due to cool, rainy weather. Unseasonal cold and wet weather persisted into flowering, causing uneven berry set, or millerandage, where each cluster had a mixture of normal sized berries and tiny, shot berries, also referred to as “hens and chicks.” In addition to a reduction in yield, the net effect of millerandage is that wines of intense flavor and color were produced.
Summer brought unseasonably cold daytime temperatures with the morning marine layer not clearing until 1pm or 2pm each day. The briefly sunny days were followed by cool evenings, which gave the grapes great flavor and color development while preserving the natural acidity. The foggy mornings did compound lingering mold pressure present from the wet spring and therefore canopies were thinned to allow increased air flow and sun exposure to protect against Botrytis. On August 23rd, an unprecedented heat spike saw temperatures reach as high as 115F causing heat damage to the fruit on vines with open canopies. This “spike” lasted for three days and the intense heat necessitated careful crop thinning and sorting in the vineyards. Old vine Zinfandel vineyards were devastated and Chardonnay and Pinot Noir yields were further reduced. The return to cooler weather allowed for continued maturation of undamaged fruit and harvest started in earnest by mid-September. Warm early October weather hastened harvest and allowed for full ripening through to the end of the season when all of the fruit was picked by mid-October, prior to the late season rains.
The 2010 vintage was one of the most challenging I have experienced in my 32 vintages at a commercial winery. Meticulous sorting in vineyards, sorting again at the winery and careful attention to detail produced evocative and unique wines. A vintage of extremes with wines of deep color, juicy flavors, perfumed aromas and juxtaposed with tremendous finesse and balance, 2010 is truly a wonderful vintage in the making.