In 2006, when I went to Burgundy on an internship to learn about Chardonnay winemaking at its finest, I discovered not only what it is to craft this wine, but what it means to commit to working toward an extraordinary level of quality for each and every vintage. A new threshold was set for me that year in Burgundy, during which I spent long nights half waking and half sleeping by the press to catch the juice and lees at exactly the right moment. I’m delighted to announce Cattleya’s newest cuvée, Beyond the Threshold, which honors my apprenticeship in Burgundy and the high level of achievement I have long since committed to as a winemaker in the United States, provides a particularly brilliant example of this dedication.
I am often asked what makes my wine special. It is not uncommon for people to ask, “What is it about your Chardonnay that makes it such a pleasurable experience?”
Just as often, I hear people say, “I’m not typically a Chardonnay drinker, but your wine is different.” When I answer them, I explain that wine is an expression not only of the decisions the winemaker chooses, but also of the winemaker’s personality. The vibrancy of my wines has a great deal to do with continued long nights I spend sleeping by the press here in California. But this vibrancy is also partly a product, I often feel, of the energetic, upbeat character of my growing-up years in Medellín, Colombia—a place where music plays all day and parties that start after dark go on till sunrise the next morning. The character of Cattleya wines also has been informed by the aesthetics I mastered working in some of the most celebrated French wineries.
So, too, an idea I have long held and that was encouraged by my training in France: not to take anything on faith. As a winemaker, I leave nothing to chance and take nothing for granted. Beyond the Threshold, a single-vineyard cuvée, offers a particularly fine example of what I have been taught and the heights I have attained by making sure I watch over my wine from its inception on the vine to its color in the glass to its aromatics on the tongue once opened.
My personal obligation to maintain the nuanced aromatics of my wines begins with the fruit on the vine. It is always more labor-intensive to work this way, but well worth the time I devote to it.
Coaxing the delicate aspects of each varietal so that they sing harmoniously from the first sip is something I work toward in every bottle.
I hand-sort all of my Chardonnays–an uncommon practice–and spend long hours at the press deciding moment by moment how to cultivate textures that provide complexity without harshness. I hand-sort all of my Chardonnays–an uncommon practice–and and spend long hours at the press deciding moment by moment how to cultivate textures that provide complexity without harshness.
Cattleya Cuvée Number Five, our Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, demonstrates the same commitment to subtle aromatics and finesse. A blend of three sites–some higher and others less elevated–this wine has been aged in 100% French oak barrels which I leave on their lees for a full 15 months. The extra aging, in particular, allows this wine to remain on the palate for longer and to demonstrate the complexity I look for.
Beyond the Threshold is born from a small block of a vineyard located at an elevation of 2,300 feet, the new cuvée was created on rolling hills of the Sonoma Coast AVA. You can expect a sense of that aerial location when you taste the wine, which dances on the palate on light feet. Beyond the Threshold maintains excellent acidity but also honeysuckle aromas that linger. Mature but not heavy, and with no traces of bitterness, this is a wine that is floral with citrus notes that linger on the palate.
Cuvée Number One is our classic Russian River Valley made of 100% Pinot Noir grapes. Pinot Noir grapes are at once the most finicky and the most seductive grapes from which I craft wine–wine that is beautiful and elegant, while full of finesse and very intense. I am ecstatic with the results of the 2019 vintage, which showcase wine that has attained a new level of refinement. Cuvée Number One is a spectacular reflection of the vintage and the perfect ripening maturity we attained at harvest. Crafted from a combination of three vineyards within the Russian River AVA, this wine is complex and exciting.
I’m delighted to present all three examples of my aesthetics to you. I hope these wines will be part of many memorable meals and time well spent with friends and family. Enjoy!