Duckhorn produces a series of extraordinary chardonnays under its Migration label. These wines – all unique to their Napa Valley appellations – demonstrate the significance of terroir in crafting single-vineyard chardonnays.
Frankly, this is a refreshing demonstration in light of a general trend toward generic wine that crosses regions. Chardonnay, in particular, seems to fall victim to winemakers who blend grapes from various regions and thus strip the wine of traits unique to a vineyard. For instance, Kendall-Jackson makes good, balanced wine but often blends grapes from several appellations.
Said Migration winemaker Dana Epperson in a press release, "Every vineyard we work with was selected because it yields distinctive and exciting wines. While there is a stylistic continuity that runs through them all, each vineyard-designate has a purpose in our portfolio, and a personality of its own."
We tasted five Migration chardonnays side-by-side and were struck by their differences. For instance, the Running Creek chardonnay from the Russian River Valley was tightly wound, laser focused and fresh while the Dierberg Vineyard chardonnay from Santa Maria Valley was broad on the palate, lush and ripe.
Migration also has chardonnays from a Bien Nacio Vineyard in Santa Maria Valley and the Charles Heitz Vineyard in Sonoma Coast.
Those of you who have given up on chardonnay need to taste these wines and appreciate what good can be done in the right hands.