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…”

Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

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. The wine passes through primary and malolactic fermentation using indigenous yeasts, then is aged for 14 to 18 months in French oak. This particular vintage was not aged in new oak but 1 and 2 years old barrels. No fining or filtering happens prior to bottling.

Light to medium bodied, this wine was picked early and is only 13% in alcohol making it very approachable. Also, light in oak, it reveals a lot of fruit flavors and some intense green olive that mountain fruit can sometimes show. It still offers a smooth finish with a light toast on the palate.

  • Chaine d’Or Vineyards: 100% single vineyard, Estate grown and produced
  • Farming: Sustainable with organic practices -
  • Harvest: September 26th, 2016
    • Brix: 23.2, pH: 3.41
    • Cabernet-Sauvignon = 88%
    • Merlot = 10%
    • Cabernet-Franc = 2%
  • Winemaking: French traditional method, 2 pump-overs / day – native yeast fermentation
  • Ageing: 100% French Oak – 14/18 months

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.


Chardonnay 2016

This is the very first vintage Nicolas produced at Chaine d'Or Vineyards. Choosing not to age this wine in barrel came from the simple fact that he needed/wanted to know what fruit flavors were going to come out of the grapes. The result is a bright and clean Chardonnay with crisp notes of apple. It retains a firm acidity on the palate and a warm lingering finish.

The Vigneron's insight: Enjoy this spring/summer season as an aperitif wine or pair with a light dish (mozzarella and beet salad, slow cooked salmon, diced cut tomatoes with basil and olive oil spread on a rustic toasted tartine...)

  • Chaine d’Or Vineyards: 100% single vineyard – Estate grown and produced
  • Farming: Sustainable with organic practices
  • Harvest: September 24th, 2016
    • Brix: 24, pH: 3.49
  • Winemaking: French traditional method, sur lies – native yeast fermentation
  • Ageing: 2 months neutral French oak – 8 months stainless steel

Nicolas Vonderheyden

Tel: 707-327-9170