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Napa wineries with chardonnays with heavy malolactic fermentation, as well as good pinots.

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I will be in Napa in 2 weeks and ny favorite wines are chardonnays with heavy malolactic fermentation. Any suggestions of wineries to visit that correspond with my prefence? The other couple likes pinots- any suggestions?

My tentative wineries are: Nickel, Cakebread,Duckhorn, Rombauer, Jessup, Kuleto, Trefethen, Stags Leap, Robert Sinsky, with possible visits to Vinecliff and Flora Springs.

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  1. Also check out Frank Family - I believe one of the Rombauer brothers is involved with them - excellent wines! Don't know how high Chateau Montelena chards are, but it is a beautiful winery!

    3 Replies
    1. re: torta basilica

      Just a note that Chateau Montelena chardonnay has no malolactic fermentation, one of the few in Napa.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Wow, that's good to know (being a non-malolactic acid fan myself). How are their wines?

      2. re: torta basilica

        I must respectfully disagree with Frank Family. I went there earlier this year for the first time since it changed over from Kornell (once a favorite of mine). The wines were disappointing and overpriced, and the place just had a sleazy salesman feel to it. One of the people I was with remarked that it felt more like a used car lot than a winery.

        I would recommend Cakebread. While not a fan of MLed Chardonnays, I've seen those who are go apeshit over their wines.

        For good Pinot, I'd suggest a very slight detour to Carneros instead. Schug is a good stop.


      3. Oh, lordy...I can't stand some of these "over-the-top"
        malolactic chardonnays, but will still recommend some.

        Rombauer has a full-ML ("balls to the wall," as they say
        in the wine business) Chardonnay, with also a heavy dose
        of residual sugar (RS).

        Nickel and Nickel do not make malolactic chardonnays. They don't need to: their fruit is so superior they don't need
        to "boost" it with false flavors.

        Try Chappellet, with its full-ML Chard. Also, Franciscan makes a reserve Chard called "Sauvage" that my be heavily ML.
        Other possibilities: Miner and William Hill.

        Pinots are not such a Napa specialty anymore, even those
        from the Carneros. Try the Oregon Reserve Pinot Noirs, or something from the Russian River Valley.

        2 Replies
        1. re: maria lorraine

          Thanks. I love the "over the top" chardonnays. In fact, Rombauer is my favorite.

          1. Some really good pinots at both Artesa and Sinskey. Artesa also has a very nice chard, ML for sure and a great sauv. blanc. Sinskey only for their pinots which are outstanding and produced from organically grown grapes.

            1 Reply
            1. re: rtmonty

              I'm not a big fan of Artesa, although the winery has a good view and the wines are supposedly getting better. For pinot, check out Mahoney in Carneros if you are in the area.

            2. I'm a bit surprised to see Trefethen on your list if you profess to enjoy only fully ML chards, because Trefethen's Chards are generally subjected to only part of the lot undergoing ML, and they are therefore quite different from the Rombauer etc. style.

              Honestly, Napa is not the place for pinot noir, although you might find a few wineries that source their pinot from Carneros or Sonoma or other regions more suited to that grape.

              2 Replies
              1. re: DonnyMac

                Thanks for the information. How is Trefethen overall for a tasting?

                1. re: DonnyMac

                  DonnyMac, what wineries would you suggest in Napa valley for high ML chards? Thanks.

                2. I'm more a Sonoma fan, myself. I'd recomend Schug (www.schugwinery.com), particularly thier 'Carneros' (that's the southern region of Napa/Sonoma) chardonay.

                  1. Trefethen is a very nice place to visit and taste.

                    Because I'm not usually fond of California chardonnay that has been given heavy oak and full ML treatment, and I'm not generally into paying Napa prices, I can't recommend any wineries in Napa that specialize in what you're looking for.

                    You might try searching the Wine Spectator ratings online, where you can limit the search by grape (chard), location (Napa) and points (90+) - since they tend to score the style of chardonnay that you enjoy highly.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: DonnyMac

                      Frank Family makes a malo chard so buttery, they call it "liquid cream brulee." I bought two bottles on my last trip, and my guests a few nights ago LOVED it, although I prefer a simple, clean un-oaked Chard, like Kunde Estate, myself, with less of a glycerin feel.

                      I thought the folks at Frank were lovely people, although the tasting room is far from sumptuous. I was surprised at the quality of their sparkling wines, which were more to my taste than Schramsberg, quite frankly. I also liked their higher-end Cab very, very much.

                    2. I'd suggest William Hill Estate (formerly William Hill Winery) - new team there and the Reserve Chard is spectacular.

                      And you should try Domaine Chandon for their pinot noir and pinot meunier.

                      1. Definitely Rombauer if you are looking for that buttery taste. Cakebread also makes some nice wines. The Reserve chard should fit the bill