A Reflection on the 2021 Vintage: Part 2 - Through the Lens of Chardonnay

As we approach our Spring Release, we are pleased to recount the 2021 vintage at Evening Land through the lens of Chardonnay, specifically our La Source and Summum cuvées. Retelling these wines’ journey from vine to bottle is intended to both inform your consumption, as well as enhance your experience with these top-tier wines. 

Vineyard Report

2021 offered textbook conditions from bud break through summer, then was greatly characterized by two significant heat spells that took place in July and August. The first wave brought on 115-degree temperatures for about one week, while August’s bout introduced 100+ degree temperatures for a period of about 5-6 days. The heat spikes drummed up a bit of concern in the Willamette Valley about an early vintage, sunburn, dehydration, and shrivel on the vines. While harvest did end up taking place a few weeks early, very little damage was sustained. 

Normally, the first fruit from Seven Springs comes into the cellar around the second week of September; in 2021, the inaugural pick took place during the last few days of August, beginning with grapes destined for sparkling and followed by Chardonnay shortly after. Ultimately, what we saw was that higher temperatures and ample sunshine allowed for development of flavor and aromatic compounds without ever sacrificing acidity. 

Harvest Conditions

During harvest, picking conditions were ideal, with temperatures hovering around 72 degrees daily. The Chardonnay arrived at the winery at 5AM, which was crucial in ensuring that clusters were cold. From there, fruit went straight into the press whole cluster and underwent a long, gentle press cycle to ensure that freshness and acidity were retained. 

After pressing, La Source and Summum juice went into stainless steel tanks to settle before being transferred to 500L Austrian Stockinger puncheons, where the wine would remain for 10 months without being disturbed, save for possibly one or two stirring of the lees. 

2021: Extended Aging (Notion of Affinage

In 2021, our winemaking team chose to extend the aging of La Source and Summum chardonnays beyond the pinot noirs, which ultimately came inspired by Sashi and his affection for the French notion of affinage (refinement).

Why Stockinger Puncheons?

There are numerous reasons why our team chooses to use 500L Stockinger puncheons for aging, first and foremost being that the larger format barrels offer a slower maturation process than standard 228L French barriques, specifically in the context of oxidation. 

Years ago, Raj came back from Burgundy and Champagne having tasted wines produced and aged in Stockinger and was incredibly inspired by them. He began importing the barrels into North America and we adopted them into our Chardonnay program. We prefer these barrels because of their delicate touch on the wines; they're not overpowering, and they integrate very well with our style of chardonnay.

Evening Land's 2021 chardonnay release will take place on Tuesday, April 4th at 9am PST.