Mayacamas 2016 Chardonnay, Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley, CA, USA

Mayacamas 2016 Chardonnay, Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley, CA, USA

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Mayacamas 2016 Chardonnay, Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley, CA, USA

Winemaker / Chef du Cave: Andy Erickson 

Variety: Chardonnay, 40-year-old 

farming: Sustainable

Terroir: Exclusively sourced from Mt. Veeder – harvested from 40-year old dry-farmed vines between 1,800 and 2,000 feet in elevation

Vinification: This is Erickson’s third vintage, now inclusive of partial neutral barrel fermentation. Whole-cluster pressed, fermented in a combination of small barrels (7% new), stainless, and large foudres, then seven months on the lees, ten months of total aging. No ML, but bottle aged for nine months. 

“Mayacamas Vineyards is one of the greatest Cabernet Sauvignon producers in the history of California. For those who long for great red wines that cellar with conviction and evolve in the course of time into brilliantly complex and compelling wines, Mayacamas Vineyards remains one of the brightest stars in the constellation of California wine. It  is arguably the last man standing from the glory days of California’s  past.”- John Gilman

At the crest of Mount Veeder, a sinuous appellation that clings to the  Mayacamas Mountains’ southern reaches, rests Mayacamas Vineyards – as it  h as for over a century. Here, at 2,400 feet, above the din of Napa’s valley floor, fifty acres of vines quietly speak to both an unshakeable past and fortitude for the future. Their fruit finds its voice in a  stone cellar built in 1889, and, when bottled, it shares with us a story of humility and commitment – unadorned, with concentration, elegance,  and balance.

Initially built in 1889 by JH Fisher, a German immigrant and pickle merchant in San Francisco, the winery was largely abandoned from the   time of the 1906 earthquake until 1941. Guests of the Lokoya Lodge on  Mount Veeder, Jack Taylor, a chemist for Shell, and  his wife, Mary,  purchased the property – the winery and its 260 acres – and with their three children founded Mayacamas. They began by planting the property to  Chardonnay, using budwood purchased from the Wente Livermore Valley  Vineyard – just like their northerly neighbors, the McCreas of Stony Hill. Cabernet Sauvignon plantings followed, and Mayacamas was bonded (#4417) in 1947.

Next came Robert Travers, under whose stewardship Mayacamas found the voice it shares in the present day. The son of a farming family, Travers  wavered from a trajectory in engineering and finance, and, bolstered by his studies in wine, turned to Joe Heitz for a single harvest. After a  year with Heitz, and the ongoing mentorship of André Tchelistcheff,  Travers, only thirty, purchased Mayacamas from the Taylors. The estate’s winemaker, Bob Sessions – who would later, to legendary acclaim, become  synoymous with Hanzell – remained by Travers’s side until 1971.

Since 2013, the Schottenstein family and winemaker Andy Erickson have rigorously attended to the identity of Mayacamas – not merely with the  intention of preservation, but invigoration. Working with Travers in the  2012 vintage, the winemaking team learned to forgo new oak and instead  implement the winery’s existing old casks – anything that still held  wine. Only minor changes have since been implemented, including cooling  equipment to stabilize fermentations and lengthen macerations (from  twelve days to perhaps twenty). Greater work stood before them in the estate’s fifty planted acres. The winery called on Phil Cotturi, to  replant the ailing, phylloxera-afflicted AXR-rooted vines, and to  institute organic viticulture and continue dry-farming. The replanting  process – only about five acres per year – promises to revive the  estate’s yields for the next generation

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