by Fred McMillin
for June 4, 1997
A Chardonnay Shootout
They came from as far away as Argentina and France.
When the ballots were counted, we had a clear winner. The label said "Cave Fermented"...and it's SOME cave. The owners spent more than twenty million dollars to create not just a storage cave, but an entire 45,OOO-sq.-ft. underground winery. ABOVE ground they have 37 acres of outstanding grapes, which they sold to leading wineries (Grgich, Clos Du Val) before their own winery was ready to roll.
Winemaker Dimitri Tchelistcheff made from the grapes what we'll call a 100% wine...100% Chardonnay...100% malolactic fermentation (adds buttery richness)...100% new French oak. The result is a brilliant, bold white wine. Owners William and Leticia Jarvis are very proud of all 1,000 cases.
1994 Chardonnay, Napa Valley
Postscript: The Jarvises bought their 1,400-acre estate east of Napa in 1985. They planted Chardonnay that first year, and those vines produced the grapes for this grand '94.
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