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The 28-acre Chicken Ranch Vineyard is located on the northern border of the Rutherford appellation. Sustainable farming methods (including Biodynamic techniques on some blocks) accompanied by low yields and aggressive canopy management produce wines that are dark, dense and packed with “Rutherford Dust.” The 2004 vintage was a roller coaster. The season began with heat spikes in March followed by one of the wettest Aprils on record. A warm summer and more heat in September raised sugars quickly, creating a frenetic harvest. Overall, the quality for both reds and whites in Napa Valley was quite high.
After a cold pre-soak, the grapes were fermented using the rack – a return method (delestage) flavored by leading Bordeaux chateaux. In addition to increasing color and flavor, this process allows for the removal of seeds, which reduces astringency and produces more supple tannins. To further soften tannins and create a more generous texture, the wine was exposed to air during fermentation and barrel aging.
All of their vineyards yield wines that are distinct and recognizable from year to year. The signature flavors for Chicken Ranch are earth and dried herbs. This 2004 is textbook Rutherford Merlot. The color is deep, the nose is ripe and tinged with olives, leather and sage, and the flavors are ripe and lush.
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