Chantilly, from the Estate's second Chardonnay vineyard, is Bill's focus on the light gold colored old-world Chablis wines.
Chantilly, a single-varietal wine from a single-vineyard more than 40 years old, is inviting with its flirtatious acidity behind flavors of white peach and honey and just touch of mineral with a subtle fruity finish.
Outside of France the word "Chablis" has often been used to describe almost any white wine but in reality all great Chablis is made 100% from the Chardonnay grape.
Believing that Chardonnay should always be fine in both texture and structure, Bill made his Amourette Chardonnay in the delicate Montrachet style and then in 2006 he turned his attention to Chablis to develop Chantilly his second superb French-style Chardonnay to bring acidity and elegance to the same glass.
Chablis, pronounced Shab-li, is the northernmost wine district of the Burgundy region in France.
The cool climate of this region produces wines with more acidity and flavors less fruity than Chardonnay wines grown in warmer climates. Some years ago Dawn and Bill visited France to review the wines and traditional winemaking techniques of the Chablis region.
They had the great fortune to taste the Chablis Premier Cru 'Montée de Tonnerre' Vieilles Vignes courtesy of owner and winemaker Marie-Ange Robin.
Bill believes that Chablis allows the chardonnay to express itself like nowhere else in the world because the calcium soil and cooler climate combined with the traditionally simple style of winemaking tends to produce complex aromatic wines with smooth texture and a pronounced mineral core.
So how do we produce French Chablis in California?
It all starts with the practice of sustainable farming, avoiding chemical treatments and following organic practices as much as weather conditions allow. Some 80% of the estate’s vineyards are planted with older vines and our Chablis vineyard grows the famous Clone 4 planted over forty years ago.
The grapes are harvested by hand, then pressed and fermented on indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and in older French oak barrels. Chantilly is aged in mostly older neutral French oak barrels for one year, with approximately 10% new barrels per vintage then bottled un-fined and unfiltered.
Using neutral barrels does not impart the characteristic oak flavors of vanilla, cinnamon, toast, coconut, etc., that today are associated with California Chardonnays so Chantilly retains vibrant, elegant acidity in the bouquet, a little "steel" in the center palate and flavor complexity that simultaneously offers intrigue and pleasure.
Chantilly ~ Bill made Chantilly [shan-til'-ee] especially for Dawn. The name refers to a town in France where fine lace is made for wedding veils and also refers to sweetened whipped cream, so Bill made Chantilly for "his sweet bride".