Romanée-Conti’s Napa Superstar Winemaker
Out of 17,000 wines judged, the 95-point 2015 Long Meadow Ranch Anderson Valley Estate Chardonnay was the highest-scoring California Chardonnay from the 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards. But we weren’t surprised. Long Meadow Ranch’s Hall family purchased 69 prime acres of vineyards in northern Anderson Valley in 2015, then they appointed winemaker Stéphane Vivier of HdV Wines — a joint venture between Napa’s Larry Hyde and Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti — to craft the wines. The results were predictably extraordinary. Over plates of charcuterie at Farmstead, the winery’s restaurant in St. Helena, we were wowed by the marvelous tension and purity of this very special Chardonnay. Every bottle of our initial 75-case allocation flew out the door. Impressed with how fast they disappeared, the Halls have now 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.
— Wine Access Wine Team