2013 Was a very warm growing season in Washington State--the second warmest on record behind 2003 in terms of growing degree days. May and June saw large fluctuations from record high temps to downright cool, and there were three times the average rainfall in June, leading to bigger canopies than usual. Summer was consistently hot day after day, but things took a sudden turn in mid-September and we had a near-perfect finish to the growing season with a big increase in flavors and overall concentration as the nights started getting cool.
French Creek’s lower elevation, combined with a consistent westerly wind through the Yakima Valley, cools the vines in the evening, allowing the fruit to maintain natural freshness and acidity. The soil is mostly silt loam with occasional spots of clay, caliche, basalt, and river rock. With such excellent drainage, the warm Eastern Washington summer sun, and light annual rainfall (6”- 8”), French Creek is one of our earliest ripening sites.
Our 2013 French Creek Chardonnay came in very early (September 9), and was whole-cluster pressed the same day. The free-run and light-press juice was chilled overnight and racked before fermentation began. Once started, the juice was racked to barrels for a slow, cool 4-week fermentation period on mostly new and 1-year French oak.
The initial notes of bright citrus and tart peach have given way to beautiful light tropical fruits, a round thick mouthfeel, and just a hint of smoke and butter on the finish.