Neyers Vineyards Bruce's Journal
Our 2022 Chardonnay ‘304’, and how to best serve it
By Bruce Neyers
Friday 3rd November, 2023
Recognition for Our 2022 Chardonnay ‘304’ – A nail biter harvest
As we enter the last days of summer, we’re on the watch for two important issues – the start of the 2023 harvest at Neyers Ranch, and the end of the 2023 tomato harvest in our garden. Both have us on the edge of our seats.
We had a remarkably cool spring and summer this year, with rainfall for the season 10 inches above normal. For now, the harvest of the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon on our Conn Valley Ranch is estimated to be at least one month behind last year. That’s causing some nail biting, to be sure, but it’s still the basis for very good news. Over the five decades that I’ve worked growing grapes and making wine in the Napa Valley, the best wines I’ve seen produced here almost always came from the latest years – hangtime, perhaps, or just full grape maturity. We are looking at what may well be a great harvest in 2023 – assuming the grapes ripen before we begin to experience winter rain.
The tomato harvest was late this year as well, and the good news is that we’re out in Barbara’s garden almost every day harvesting ripe heirloom tomatoes for every meal – and for one of my favorite dishes, Tomato Gazpacho Soup. I’m enjoying it twice a week these days, and one of the best parts of it is deciding whether I prefer it with white wine, or with red. This week it’s white, and it didn’t hurt that ‘Wine Enthusiast’ just gave our 2022 Chardonnay ‘304’ the following review:
2022 Chardonnay ‘304’ – “Aromas of orange blossoms lead to warm, rich, golden apple, vanilla and cream flavors on a luxurious texture. This wine is practically sweet from very ripe grapes and the pastry-shop array of oak spice.” 91 POINTS – Jim Gordon
Fruit for this bottling of Chardonnay comes from the Larson vineyard in Sonoma Carneros, along with the Nichols Ranch in southern Sonoma County, which is farmed by our old friend Chuy Ordaz. The wine is fermented with native wild yeast in ‘304’ Grade Stainless Steel tanks, allowed to sit on the yeast lees for two months, complete 50% of its secondary or malo-lactic fermentation, then filtered and bottled early in the following year. It’s certainly not sweet, but that crisp, natural acidity, and fresh grape flavor with a hint of bright minerality, make it delicious with just about anything — especially Barbara’s Gazpacho.
Barbara’s Summer Tomato Gazpacho
- 2 pounds ripe red tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
- 1 cucumber approximately 6-10 inches long, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 Anaheim pepper, seeds removed and roughly chopped
- 1 small white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal Kosher salt
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Garnish with dime-size pieces of peeled cucumber
- Combine tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, and onion in a blender. Depending on how smooth or chunky you prefer the soup, blend until preferred consistency is reached.
- The soup can be strained through a food mill or strainer for a smoother consistency.
- Add salt and vinegar to the mixture.
- Add the cucumber pieces to the soup.
- Cover and chill soup until very cold. Chilling overnight is best.
- Before serving, adjust the seasoning to taste with salt and vinegar.
- Drizzle extra virgin olive oil in each bowl as the soup is served.