2004 Stony Hill Chardonnay

Vintage:   Wine:

Mike Chelini describes the color of our 2004 Chardonnay as white gold as he tilts his glass this way and that to check the viscous "legs" that form, showing that the wine has good body weight. Sniffing our glasses we detect aromas of pear, crisp green apple and a hint of exotic citrus. The mouthfeel is tart, indicating that it is still a youthful and tightly wound wine. But at the same time the big fruit flavors give the wine an elegant profile. Although some wine critics claim there is no way to smell or taste minerality, all of us at Stony Hill detect a consistent presence in our wines that we think derives from our rocky soil, brought up by long tap roots from deep in the hillside. Call it what you will, this characteristic, along with intense fruit flavors, is the underlying essence of the 2004 Stony Hill Chardonnay.

2010 Aging Recommendation: True to its promise, this Chardonnay has developed an elegant profile showing maturing fruit flavors and an underlying minerality that is one of the hallmarks of Stony Hill Chardonnay. We suggest pairing it with Copper River Salmon and a hollandaise sauce to match the richness in the wine.

2004 Stony Hill Chardonnay

Tech Details

Farming: Dry farmed Age of Vines: 10-19 years
Appellation: Napa Valley Varietal: Chardonnay
Grapes: 100% grown, produced and bottled at Stony Hill Vineyard Harvest Date: 8/16/2004 - 9/1/2004
Fermentation Time: 2 weeks in 5 to 25-year-old barrels Fermentation Temp: 60 degrees
Aging Time: 10 months in old French oak barrels Filtering: Filtered to inhibit malolactic fermentation
Bottling Date: 6/15/2005 Total Acidity: .6%
Residual Sugar: dry Alcohol: 13%
Aging Potential: 5 years + Production: 1895 cases in 750 ml bottles; 75 cases in 1.5L bottles
Release Date: September 2006 Price at Winery: $30.00 per bottle

Press

The Legendary Wines of Napa: Tasting Notes
2004 Stony Hill Chardonnay

Last weekend I had the singular pleasure of co-leading a tasting with the title Legends of Napa Valley. I wrote about my impressions of the tasting overall, and the lessons that it offered, such as they were, about the aging of Napa wines across the last five decades, as part of my monthly column for Jancis Robinson.

Now that I'm done editorializing, we can get down to the wines themselves. Below I offer my tasting notes for every wine that we tasted, in the order we tasted them. We tasted in four flights, two each day. The start of every flight featured at least one white wine, which you will see interspersed below at about every twentieth wine.



The Great White
2010 Stony Hill Chardonnay

I broke up with Chardonnay 15 years ago. For some of us, the ABC (anything but Chardonnay) crowd, it became the wine we loved to hate, decked out in new oak, tongue-coating butter, and in-your-face sweetness. And with food? Diva Chard was a train wreck...

Stony Hill 2010 ($42)

An angular and intensely minerally Chard set off by green melon, hints of pineapple, and kumquat.


Grapes 101: Remedial wine lessons
2008 Stony Hill Chardonnay

Those of us who dabble in wine tend to take lots of basic information for granted. I was reminded of this recently when a friend, a casual wine-drinker, asked if she should buy a Bordeaux or a malbec to serve at a wedding. She thought Bordeaux was a kind of grape...


The Place | Noshing in Napa
2007 Stony Hill Chardonnay

"Chablis-like chardonnay with no oak - a somewhat atypical wine in today's supercharged chardonnay world."


Hot Picks
2007 Stony Hill Chardonnay

Lots of California winemakers are talking about changing their style to feature lower alcohol and less oak.  Stony Hill started building California's reputation for Chardonnay nearly 50 years ago, and its approach has never changed: careful handling of the fruit and hand-off winemaking.  In this version, the purity and depth of character that come only from older vines will impress even the most diehard white Burgundy fans.


Wine of the Week: Stony Hill Vineyard 2007 Chardonnay
2007 Stony Hill Chardonnay

A group of us sat down to lunch on a rainy day last week and I started to scour the wine list for a red to ward off the chill. When half of the diners mentioned their preference for white wine, I panned to the chardonnay options hoping for a richly textured but un-oaked version.

And there it was — the Stony Hill Chardonnay ($42). For anyone wanting a crisp and complex chardonnay, Stony Hill should be on your shortlist. The 2007 even trumped all expectations. There was a striking flintiness and minerality with nice acidity in the wine, but also rich red apple, pear and juicy peach flavors that lingered on.


Vine Dining: America's Best Wine Country Restaurants
2006 Stony Hill Chardonnay

"...and the more balanced among them - such as a 2006 Stony Hill..."


Hot Picks
2006 Stony Hill Chardonnay

"The result is a brilliantly defined wine, redolent of fresh green apple and pear, with crisp mineral notes and a clean, lean finish."


Ten Independence Day Wines
2005 Stony Hill Chardonnay

"...and then there is Stony Hill, which has been saying all along that there's a better way."

"...the wine is kept crisp and acidic, not made overly rich and smooth."


The Chardonnay that Blazed the Trail
Stony Hill Chardonnay

"Half a centry ago, Stony Hill put the quintessential California wine on the map.  Today, it's still going strong."


Chardonnay Finds Its Inner Finesse
Stony Hill Chardonnay

"But there is another California Chardonnay, produced by a small band of winemakers who have held out against the big and buttery style.  Using and older style of winemaking, they are producing a crisper, more lively chardonnay, one that sacrifices showy power in favor of steely subtlety."

 


Saveur Issue #94: Chardonnay Royalty
Stony Hill Chardonnay

"From modest beginnings came "America's greatest white wine estate"


Better With Age - Stony Hill's Chardonnays Stand the Test of Time
Stony Hill Chardonnay
"At a time when too many California Chardonnays taste more of toast, butter and caramel than they do of fruit, Stony Hill's wines are delicate and lean on release, with fresh green-apple, pear and lemon flavors, hints of slate, subtle spicing and brisk acidity."

Napa's Un-California Chardonnay
Stony Hill Chardonnay

"These Stony Hills were remarkable wines, in the classic Burgundian tradition: elegant; intense fresh taste, thanks to good acid levels; and that delicious bite the French call nerveux. Alcohol levels were reasonable, and the wines had just enough oak in the finish to enhance rather than overpower."


The New/Old California Wines: Lower-Scoring and Highly Delicious
Stony Hill Chardonnay

"But not every winery in California has conformed to the critics’ tastes. Despite the threat of low scores, there are some locals who’ve never gone for the big fruit bombs. Stony Hill..., make wines as they always have—with restraint. These wines might be less flashy and thus are at a disadvantage in a critic’s blind tasting, but they’re food-friendly and elegant."


Stony Hill Vineyard, "age, dignity, and place"
Stony Hill Chardonnay
"Most of those who make the 2-mile drive up the winding one-lane road to the patio of Willinda and Peter McCrea's residence on Spring Mountain, that is the winery's hospitality room, believe they are arriving at the summit of white wines."


California Chardonnay Shines as Stony Hill Turns 60
Stony Hill Chardonnay

Over the last thirty years, as other wineries kept cranking up an over-the-top Chardonnay formula, Stony Hill's modus operani was all about saying no: no to new oak barrels, no to the latest technique, no to a fancy winery, no to an updated label.  After all, why mess up a good thing?


In Pursuit of Balance Since 1952...or 1982...
Stony Hill Chardonnay

"There's a generation of California winemakers coming of age in the wake of those boom years looking to fashion a more drinkable style of wine."