Bruce & Barbara Neyers purchased their 40 acre ConnValley vineyard in 1988. The estate ranges from 400 feet to 1000 feet elevation & has several soil profiles. They first planted Merlot in the basalt (compacted volcanic ash) soils. They first planted cabernet in 1996. The high slope parcel was only recently dynamited & then also planted to Cabernet (where in 2005 their AME bottling was produced from). The vineyard is farmed organically & sustainably. Their other superstar vineyard source, is Il Novillero.
2010 Chardonnay ‘El Novillero’ –
For my palate, this is one of the top five Chardonnays out of California–the grapes from a great vineyard in the hands of one of California’s contemporary winemaking phenoms. While credit for the farming of the remarkable El Novillero Ranch goes to the Sangiacomo Family, the visionaries are Dewey Donnell, who founded the property over sixty years ago, and his children, who opted to develop a portion of it to vineyard forty years later. The vineyard upon first glance, really doesn’t look like anything special. Its located in the hills ( at roughly 750 feet in elevation) on the western limit of the Carneros District appellation, & could hardly be better. The grapes enjoy the best of what California can offer Chardonnay — gravel/tiny pebble soil mixed with a high concentration of clay, a south-east facing slope to capture the best part of the day’s sunshine, and cool breezes off nearby San Pablo Bay. The yields are naturally low & the acidity level in the fruit is naturally high with lots of extract, concentration & a distinct stony character. The wine is wild yeast fermented & aged in French oak, 25% of which is new.