Donkey & Goat Chardonnay Linda Vista 2019
100% Chardonnay. Having turned their backs on working in the technology sector at the start of the new millennium, Jared and Tracey Brandt took the plunge and followed their strong desire to dedicate themselves to making wine. Instead of learning the secrets of winemaking at home, they decided to make a pilgrimage to France, where they spent their sabbatical year interning under the legendary Rhone Valley vigneron Eric Texier. Their French adventure also brought the winery its name: recalling how one of Eric’s neighbors in France had trained a donkey to help keep unwanted vegetation at bay, Jared had been intrigued to know why he also had a goat. It was explained that goats, due to their calm temperament, help placate other animals. They returned back home in 2003 and started to work on founding a winery of their own. With Donkey and Goat being established as an urban winery in Berkeley in 2004, they quickly came to the fore of the natural wine movement in California. All vineyards they work with are some sort of organic, biodynamic, or sustainable while in the cellar they are very much low intervention with a lot of hand- and footwork. Natural yeasts only, no fining, no stabilization, no filtering, no plastic fermentation vessels used. All these convictions sound less unusual nowadays with natural wine firmly in position, but holding them more than a decade ago wasn’t so commonplace then. Jared and Tracey are some of the OGs of this movement, for sure. The Linda Vista Vineyard is dry-farmed and planted in alluvial soils from the nearby Dry Creek in the West Oak Knoll area which is one of the more prestigious and classic spots for Chardonnay. The vineyard that won the famous Paris tasting in 1976 is just behind Linda Vista. There is a beautiful tension in this wine resulting from the interaction of the cooling influence of the Bay and the generous Napa Valley sunshine. The vines are 20 years old and the grapes are fermented in neutral and once used French oak barrels and aged for a little over 8 months then bottled unfined and unfiltered with just a tiny addition of sulfur. Only 200 cases made of this wine and it is stunning! This wine is pretty like Meyer lemon flowers. To match the season, it brings the scent of bright golden apples. As you sip it, you’ll encounter that tartness and the minerality of alluvial rocks, as if there was a river here some thousands of years ago. Grab a bottle or two of this and you won't be disappointed.