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

p
pof Oct 22, 2006 01:36 PM

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.

  1. t
    torta basilica Oct 22, 2006 05:37 PM

    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
      Melanie Wong Oct 22, 2006 06:12 PM

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

      1. re: Melanie Wong
        coolbean98 Oct 26, 2006 07:05 AM

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

      2. re: torta basilica
        n
        nja Oct 26, 2006 06:47 PM

        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.

        -Nick

      3. maria lorraine Oct 26, 2006 03:15 AM

        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
          p
          pof Oct 26, 2006 06:35 AM

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

          1. re: maria lorraine
            f
            Frijol Oct 26, 2006 03:31 PM

            Rombauer should fit the bill.

          2. r
            rtmonty Oct 26, 2006 04:26 PM

            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
              The Dive Oct 26, 2006 08:36 PM

              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. d
              DonnyMac Oct 26, 2006 05:46 PM

              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
                p
                pof Oct 26, 2006 07:58 PM

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

                1. re: DonnyMac
                  p
                  pof Oct 26, 2006 08:17 PM

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

                2. m
                  Manuel Oct 26, 2006 09:15 PM

                  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. d
                    DonnyMac Oct 26, 2006 10:34 PM

                    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
                      r
                      rruben1 Oct 26, 2006 10:39 PM

                      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. j
                      jimtak Oct 26, 2006 11:33 PM

                      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. j
                        jenwong Oct 27, 2006 12:20 AM

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

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