2015 Division Chenin Blanc 'Savant'
2015 Division Chenin Blanc “Savant”
Willard Farms Vineyard Yakima Valley AVA
The Yakima Valley is no stranger to warmth and fortunately for us, our old vine Chenin Blanc vines at Willard Farms have over 35 years of root development at the highest elevation portions of the north central region to help insulate the vines from year to year climate variation, mostly intense heat! The 2015 growing year was one of the hottest on record and was also very dry. This made vine managenment for challenging then in some years and definitely stressed the vineyards in the region. That said, we love this particular site, originally planted in the late 70s, as it’s quite unique being one of the last old vine Chenin Blanc sites around and is farmed by an excellent multigenerational farming family with a deep understanding of the soils and region. The vines are planted on soils formed from volcanic miocene uplift against basalt bedrock with the primary top soil being made up of quartz and lime- slilica, overlaid with the mixed sedimentary runoff of Missoula floods that is typical of the area.
We believe the best wines will be made by picking before overly ripe characteristics dominate the wine and balance, freshness and finesse suffer. Therefore, like in the some of the best domaines of the Loire Valley where Chenin Blanc hails from, we performed two passes of picking. This was especially necessary for 2015 to help mitigate some of the intense heat from the summer. The first pick was the more vibrant and lively earlier acid driven grapes and the latter being the more fruit concentrated, riper and noble Boytritis infected grapes. The first pass was completed on September 5th (our earliest ever for this vineyard), with fruit quality that was healthy and with more ripeness than in years past. The second picking completed just five days was quite ripe with some rows with early Noble Rot - we separated that component of for a skin contact fermentation. We used the early pass fermentation to start the skin contact and barrel ferment for the Savant wine. The barrel ferment took off quickly and we moved the barrels into a cool area where the ferment lasted until nearly August of 2016. Unlike the “l’Isle Verte” Chenin Blanc, we wait for the Savant ferment to go dry. Our goal with this Chenin was to make a more Anjou-esque wine with deeper mineral intensity and dryness that would allow the wine to age and evolve with the Noble Rot influence.
The 2015 Division Chenin Blanc “Savant” is an intense and ripe wine indeed, but is balanced by Chenin’s notorious vibrant acidity. The crux of this wine, is the mid and back palate featuring lanolin character and honey notes, both from the influence of Botrytis. The aromatics are ripe Chenin that remind us fresh cream, honeycomb, and ripe peach. The palate is ripe, dry and softer than usual, but with lots of mineral Chenin and mineral influence. This year’s wine is drinking very well at the moment due to being quite ripe, however, we look forward to tasting how the nice acidity ages and influences the wine over the next several years.
Alc - 14.2%, pH 3.44, 55 cases