Talley Vineyards is located in Coastal San Luis Obispo County, one of the world’s great regions to grow chardonnay and pinot noir. Traditional Burgundian methods are employed in the cellar to capture all of the potential of this place and to produce expressive and complex wines that purely reflect their vineyard origins.
Chardonnay is hand harvested and whole cluster pressed. The juice is only minimally settled in tank then racked into light to medium toasted French oak barrels. The level of new oak used depends on the wine, but generally ranges between 15% and 25%. All of the wine is barrel fermented with native yeasts. Maximum fermentation temperatures are cool and range from 68°-74°F to preserve the natural fruit characteristics of the wine. As is traditional in Burgundy, all of the wine ages sur lie and undergoes malolactic fermentation to soften the natural acidity while adding richness and complexity to the finished wine. The Estate Chardonnay is typically bottled after 9 months in barrel, while the Single Vineyard Selections age 14-16 months in barrel.
After hand harvest and cluster sorting, the pinot noir is predominantly destemmed, though 25% whole clusters are maintained in vineyard blocks that achieve good stem lignification. Destemmed grapes are berry sorted before they are gravity fed into small open top fermenters. Before fermentation, the must undergoes a "cold soak" of three to five days to extract color, aroma, and flavor. Only native yeasts ferment the pinot noir, with the objective being a long, slow fermentation. Maximum fermentation temperatures range from 85°-92° F. After a cuvaison of about ten days, the wine is racked, with minimal settling, into medium-heavy toasted French Oak barrels where it ages for 15-18 months before bottling. Generally 30-35% of the barrels are new.
During their elevage, wines from individual vineyard blocks are kept separate for the first 8-10 months before a series of blind tastings are conducted to assemble the Single Vineyard Selections. Year after year, these wines typically come from the same few blocks within each respective vineyard. The Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir generally incorporate all of the vineyard blocks farmed by the family in the Arroyo Grande Valley. Before bottling, all barrels are tasted individually and any not meeting Talley Vineyards strict quality standards are kept out of the final blend. The wines are then gently bottled, using in-house bottling equipment.
The goal is to produce distinctive and balanced wines that best express the unique character of each of the Talley family’s six vineyard sites. It is the commitment to this objective that results in the consistency of quality from vintage to vintage that is the hallmark of a great winegrowing estate.