Schweiger Vineyards & Winery
Chardonnay • Spring Mountain District
California: Napa Valley
What we say
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes greater than great, as is the case with today’s wine from Schweiger Vineyards.
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT!: Today’s Napa Valley Chardonnay is ultra-unique and ultra-delicious. This 100% barrel aged, zero malolactic Chard is a stunner. NO BORING CHARDONNAY here!
ALLOCATION ALERT!: We were only able to get our hands on a small quantity of today’s wine, so please be sure to take advantage – before we run out
SAVINGS ALERT!: Enjoy FREE Ground Shipping with your purchase of 6 or more bottles when you use coupon code: NAPASPY at checkout
Mission Codename: The Bold and the Beautiful
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Send Agent Red, Wine Spies resident red wine expert, on a mission to taste Schweiger’s Chardonnay of legend. If the wine proves superior, and Agent Red is blown away, Agent Red is ordered to procure a secret cache for our Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Schweiger Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2006 Chardonnay
Winemaker: Andrew Schweiger
Backgrounder: Wine Spies Agents are category experts. Agent White investigates white wines, Agent Red, the reds. In order to give our agents a well-rounded view of the wine world, they regularly undergo total immersion cross-training – in which an Agent may review a wine outside of their normal realm. Today we send Agent Red in search of the best Chardonnay that he can find. After exhaustive searching and rigorous tasting, Agent Red finds the perfect Chardonnay. Read his tasting notes and mission report below for full details on this superior wine.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Golden and almost glowing with brilliant highlights, perfect glittering clarity with a bouncy surface and medium legs that march steadily down the glass at widely varying speeds
Smell – Gigantic and powerful with a wonderful, fruity and deeply aromatic nose of pineapple, kiwi, pear, and acacia with tropical tones, wet slate (minerals) and subtle oaky vanilla
Feel – Right at the tip of the tongue, the wine is round and velvety – then something interesting happens which is quite unique: the wine grip at the mid-tongue but then become soft as velvet again at the real palate. Around the edges of the tongue and extending to the cheeks and the roof of the mouth, the wine is slightly dry and grippy. This original blend of feels is really fun and quite pleasing and interesting
Taste – Delicious layers of flavor, with prominent green apple, kiwi, mineral and pineapple, the wine also delivers mild oak, citrus and pear with sweet white flowers
Finish – long, lingering with flavors and soft tannins that fall off gradually, moving from sweet to tart and back to sweet again
Conclusion – This is no ordinary Chardonnay. Rather, what you get in this wine is an extraordinarily big and flavorful Chard that won’t bore you with typical bland and butter-laden fare that you may be used to. Winemaker Andrew Schweiger leverages the powerful fruit from his family’s 2000-foot elevation winery and his own special winemaking techniques to create a distinctive wine that expresses powerful flavors – but is never overpowering. If you are bored with Chardonnay or think that Chardonnay is too lighthearted to drink, you’ll be delighted by this wine.
I was thrilled to be sent on this mission. It had been a while since I had tasted a really exciting white wine and it was time to stretch out the palate.
I got into the Spy Car and headed to Napa Valley, from where Control (our H.Q. for you newer recruits) had been receiving a small number of reports of some really fantastic Chardonnay wines.
It was a gorgeous day in Napa, a time when almost all of the vines are in bloom. This is a magical time, but also one in which growers pray that there will be no rain. This, in order to protect the flowers, their precious pollens and the bees they need in order to spread the love.
Along the days journey, I stopped into a handful of great wineries. My cover was Tourist from Chicago. With my Cubs hat on and my midwestern twang in full effect, like a bee buzzing from vineyard to vineyard, I flitted through the tasting rooms.
While I tasted some really interesting Chards, none blew me away. That is, until my travels took me to what was to be my final stop of the day, Schweiger Vineyards!
At Schweiger Vineyards, fine wine runs through the veins of the Schweiger family, with the second and third generations tending vines and making wines. In 1960, the first generations of Schweigers planted the vineyards on their beautiful estate. Today, 100% of the fruit grown on their estate is used in their wines.
Fred Schweiger, the family patriarch, is as sincere and dedicated a man as I have come across. He is fiercely dedicated to his land, his vines, his wines – and even the people that buy them. Fred affirms that those that buy his wines have an expectation of superior quality, both in terms of wine quality, but also in terms of the care that his winery has for its clients.
While Fred is responsible for the vineyards and, along with his wife, Sally, for customer happiness, the next generation of Schweigers take on different roles. In 1999, Andrew took on the role of winemaker and Diana Schweiger Isdhal manages sales and marketing.
I have found that generational wineries often produce some of the finest wines. In Europe, where winemaking lineage can go back 10 or more generations, this is more the norm. In America, it is more special.
Okay, about the wine…
I won’t mince words about this Chardonnay; It is incredible!
Here are some of the key points to consider:
- No malolactic fermentation
- 100% barrel aging, without the wine suffering at all from over-oaking as some wines do
- Unique 2000 foot elevation vineyards make for great and unique fruit character
- Chardonnay yields from Schweiger Estate vineyards vary widely, with yields from 60 cases to 1000 or more. 800 were produced in this vintage
- Schweiger is 1 of only 4 Spring Mt. producers of Chardonnay
This wine is deeply aromatic, with big and bold notes. The mouth feel is terrific, with velvety beginnings and a soft and integrated ending. Flavors are off the charts delicious, but not at all overpowering.
Chardonnay, when its done right, I love it.
Major Spy Kudos to the Schweiger family. This Chardonnay has renewed my faith in white wine!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the exquisite Schweiger Estate Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
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About This Wine:
The 2006 vintage is our thirteenth release of Chardonnay. We strive to strike a balance between fruitiness and complexity in our wines, Our goal is to always express the fruit of our vineyard first; why work hard in the vineyard only to mask the true beauty with cellar practices. Once harvested, we selectively use the tools we have at our disposal as winemakers to shape and complement the wine; surlies aging, and French oak cooperage, both new and old. Our 2006 Chardonnay is a full bodied wine with true varietal characteristics, hints of pear, kiwi, citrus, and apricots, and delicate undertones of oak and tropical fruits. The body of the wine is rich and supple, filling the mouth with flavors. The true nature of Spring Mountain Chardonnay comes through in the mineral character, more reminiscent of a classic Mersault than your typical California Chardonnay. This wine is best served between 58F and 65F.
About The Winery:
In 1960, Fred Schweiger’s parents, Tony and Theresa Schweiger, purchased 53 acres on Spring Mountain and in 1961; Fred purchased an additional eight acres. The property, located at an elevation of 2,000 feet (above the fog line), features rich volcanic soils and unique microclimates particularly favorable for Cabernet Sauvignon.
Clearing for vineyard purposes did not begin until the late 1970’s and was started as a result of slow times for Schweiger Construction, partly because of high interest rates. Fred was able to maintain his construction crew of four men keeping them busy preparing the Spring Mountain property for grape vines. During the clearing process, old redwood hand split grape stakes spaced at 1×1 meter intervals were discovered, reconfirming the notion that the property had once been a prime viticulture area dating back to the late 1870’s.
The first Schweiger vines were planted in 1981 and the first harvest was in 1984. For the first 10 years, the Schweigers sold their fruit to Joe Cafaro, ZD, Newton and Stags Leap Winery. In 1994, Schweiger Vineyards became a bonded winery and the family began bottling wine under their own label, though they continued to sell most of their grapes to contracted wineries.
Finally, in 1999, Andrew Schweiger joined the winery as the full-time winemaker. The family discontinued selling their grapes and began using 100 percent of their estate fruit for Schweiger Vineyards wine. As wine production increased, additional winery square footage became necessary and construction was completed on the new fermentation room in 2002. Additionally, the garden terrace area, used by the family for entertaining during the seasonal fair weathered months, was completed in 2002.
Today, Schweiger Vineyards includes 25 acres of cabernet, five acres of merlot, and four acres of chardonnay. Annual harvest yields vary from 1.5 to 3.5 tons per acre.
About The Winemaker:
Andrew Schweiger spent his early years in Sonoma County, California. He attended Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa where he was an accomplished musician, often performing with the Sonoma County Symphony, Sonoma County Junior Symphony and numerous other musical groups.
Andrew gained a passion for winemaking early in life being surrounding by vineyards on the family property on Spring Mountain, high above St. Helena. While in high school, he spent summers working in a variety of capacities at local wineries including Gloria Ferrer and ZD.
In 1988, Andrew started his formal training in winemaking at the University of California,Davis. While keeping a full schedule at school, he expanded his winemaking bag of tricks by working at various wineries, including Joseph Phelps and Trefethen Vineyards. Upon graduating with a bachelor’s degree in fermentation science and a minor in viticulture, Schweiger set right to work at Chateau St. Jean, and a few years later at Cain Cellars.
When the time came in 1994 for Schweiger Vineyards to begin wine production, Andrew was able to balance his work load and oversee all the winemaking operations at Schweiger in addition to his full time obligations. Finally, the big step forward came in 1999, when Schweiger Vineyards chose to stop selling fruit to other wineries, and Andrew took the leap to Schweiger Vineyards full time.
Andrew still keeps up with his music, playing sax at St. John’s Lutheran Church for their contemporary worship service and occasionally sits in with other jazz groups. He is married to Paula Schweiger and has two children, Jerry and Megan.
Varietal Percentage: 100%
Age of vines and soil type: 9-23 year old vines planted in deep volcanic soils at a 2000’ elevation
Date picked: 9/25/06 (25.1B degrees brix), 10/3/06 (24.3 degrees brix), & 10/14/06 (24.1 degrees brix)
Harvest Sugar: 24 – 25 degrees brix
Fermentation time/Temperature Range: 45 days, 56-63 degrees F
Fermentation container/maceration: Barrel fermented
V.A.: 0.035 g/100ml
R.S.: 0.028 g/100ml
Length/type of aging: Aged surlies for 9 months, 26% New French Oak, 74% 2-4 year old French Oak, No Malolactic
Approximate lifespan under proper cellar conditions: 2-5 years
Number of cases produced: 800
Release Date: September 2007
Winemaker: Andrew T. Schweiger