Chaine d'Or Wines

About Our Gold-Medal Winning Cabernet!
In the town of Woodside at the northern head of the Santa Cruz Mountains the summer days are warm and the nights are cooled by the Pacific fogs. The growing season for the Cabernet grape is longer here than in the hot Napa Valley. The fruit can hang on the vine as much as a month longer continuing to develop a complexity of flavors unique to cool weather mountain vineyards. Then our glorious Octobers with their warm Indian Summer weather produce the final extraordinary results.

The creation of a great red wine requires nothing so much as patience. After fermentation the dark liquid is deposited into the French oak barrels and left to quietly age in the cool cellar, disturbed only slightly by the periodic toppings to fill the space in the barrel created by evaporation. This small amount of wine lost by evaporation is known as “the angel’s share”.

The concept of vintage, the variation of the quality of the wine from year to year, loses much of its meaning in the warmer wine growing regions of California which produce highly consistent wines. But in the cooler climates of the Santa Cruz Mountains there will always be variations and the vintage has considerable significance. And as each successive Cabernet takes its place in the parade of vintages we can all look back on the summer of its birth and say “ I remember…”

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon

We consider our estate Cabernet Sauvignon a highpoint of our efforts in making a wine from this, the king of red wine grapes. In addition to the primary Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, we also grow small quantities of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, the classic blending grapes of Bordeaux, which we blend with the Cabernet to add complexity and smoothness. The wine passes through primary and malolactic fermentation using only indigenous yeasts, then is aged for 20 months in French Oak. We use a mixture of 50% new barrels combined with one and two year old barrels. After aging the wine is bottled without fining or filtering. It is unusual in a Cabernet Sauvignon of this intensity to be so approachable and ready to drink now. If it is your habit to drink wines from the Napa Valley or from France, you will be pleasantly surprised at the quality and sophistication of this wine, grown and produced locally.

2006 brought us a very rainy March and early April but our normal spring weather burst through in May. Continued sunshine throughout the summer months with a particular hot spell in July brought on a harvest at about our normal time, with the Cabernet Sauvignon being picked on October 28 at a Brix of 24.0, perhaps one week late for us. Yields were average to good with 177 cases produced. The result is a wonderful full wine that will remind you of a European Bordeaux with its subtlety and restrained sophistication.

For the technically inclined the final blend of the 2006 Cabernet is composed of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petit Verdot. Alcohol is 14.0%, PH 3.52, TA 0.59

About Our Chardonnay
Anne Anderson grew up in Surrey, England . There she became well acquainted with the white Burgundies of France long before she ever tasted her first California Chardonnay. With this background, and with the natural higher acidity characteristics of the Santa Cruz Mountains grapes, Chaine d’Or styles its white wines after its famous French cousins, the Mersaults and Montrechets. Though not without a generous tip of the hat to the ripe California fruit, the subtle undertones of mineral and vanilla create a wine which can be drunk as an aperitif or accompany a great range of foods.

Very often in France, the best wines come from the warmest slope of a cool climate. Chablis, Champagne, and the Cote-d’Or are all examples. Working on the edge of a cool climate guards finesse but the warmest slope within that climate brings out the power in a wine. Here in California that same interplay repeats at Chaine d’Or where the vineyard is the furthest north and potentially the coolest in the Santa Cruz Mountains. However, the vineyard is planted on an exceptionally sunny, well-drained knoll 1400 feet in altitude above the fog that spills down either side almost every summer afternoon.

A long cool six-week barrel fermentation in French oak followed by full malolactic fermentation rounds this “King of White Grapes” into a unique blend of California and European experience.


2008 Chardonnay

The 2008 Chardonnay was barrel fermented in French oak barrels for 9 months. We imported French oak barrels from Tonnellerie Claude Gillet, a master cooper from tiny Saint Romain in the heart of the Burgundian vineyards and used them in the traditional barrel-fermented method of chardonnay creation.    Sometimes we forget that the Chardonnay grape is the as much the essence of Burgundy winemaking as is the Pinot Noir grape.  So, Burgundian barrels for a Burgundian grape, with a goal of making a wine which would encompass both the steely mineral aspects of a classic French white burgundy, with the more lush California fruit – a task made possible by the typical restraint of the Santa Cruz Mountains terroir.

The result is a full-bodied buttery chardonnay, but which retains a firm acidity on the mid-palate and a warm lingering finish.  An aroma of green apples, melon, citrus, pineapple, and bananas floats from the glass punctuated with notes of barrel spice.

Harvest occurred on September 20 at a Brix of 23.4 with yields about average.  Final numbers for the 2006 Chardonnay are Alcohol 13.9%, Ph 3.63, TA 0.59