Romanée-Conti’s Napa Superstar Winemaker
At 95 points, this is the highest-scoring California Chardonnay from the 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards. We were not surprised that this mind-bogglingly complex, stunning Chardonnay blew away the competition outpointing all other wines in its class, standing out amid 17,000+ bottles tasted. Long Meadow Ranch’s Hall family purchased 69 prime acres of vineyards in northern Anderson Valley in 2015. When we learned they had appointed Stéphane Vivier — winemaker for HdV Wines (a joint venture between Napa’s Larry Hyde and Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti) — to craft their Anderson Valley wines, we made a reservation at Farmstead, the winery’s restaurant in St. Helena. Over plates of charcuterie — and glasses of the stunning 2015 Long Meadow Ranch Anderson Valley Estate Chardonnay and all its Burgundian-like tension and purity — we locked into 75 cases. In June, those cases were gone before lunch. So impressed that our clients depleted our allocation so quickly, the Halls have offered another 75 cases — and they’ll go equally as fast.
Stéphane Vivier was trained in Burgundy, cutting his teeth in hallowed cellars in Pommard, Meursault, and Chassagne-Montrachet. He is the longtime winemaker for HdV Wines, a joint venture between Napa’s Larry Hyde and Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.
In 2015, the fourth year of drought conditions and cool weather in the spring meant that yields were lower than the abundant fruit-set in 2013 and 2014. Vivier had made the call to harvest in August, and though it was one of the earliest in recent history, bunches were gorgeous, healthy, and teeming with crisp, Anderson Valley acidity.