Continuously inspired by the wines of Loire Valley, Lang & Reed Napa Valley recently released their sixth bottling of their exploration of the Chenin Blanc grape in Napa Valley. A generation ago, Chenin Blanc was one of the most widely planted white grapes in The Napa Valley. Nowadays, there are a scant 17.5 acres in the ground but a growing curiosity to harken back to why the special grape was planted in Napa in the first place. Lang & Reed’s 2022 Napa Valley Chenin Blanc is sourced from a tiny hillside vineyard on the eastern rim of the valley, just below Howell Mountain.
This wine's vinification is a collaborative effort between winemakers John Skupny and his son, Reed Skupny. Reed has had his hand in making white wine on three continents - Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand, Chardonnay in Napa Valley, and Chenin Blanc in Loire Valley (Chinon), France. For this cuvée, the grapes were pressed whole cluster, left for a day to settle, then transferred into barrels—two new French oak barrels (from tonneliers Louis Latour & Gauthier) and two seasoned (previously used) French oak barels. Half of the barrels were inoculated with selected yeast strains, while the balance was allowed to ferment with the ambient, indigenous yeast. The lees were stirred (known as battonage in French) weekly until one month before bottling. The final assemblage proved greater than any of the individual barrels.
Lang & Reed’s 2022 Napa Valley Chenin Blanc is a generous and effusive version of this unique grape. An exotic mix of stone fruit and honeysuckle exude from the aromas with almost sweet hints of creme brûlée. On the palate, the initial flavors are ripe peach, pear, and savory earth notes. As it expands, it gains vibrant complexity, with the fruit flavors complemented by hints of linden flower, lightly toasted almonds, and vanilla. This is a wine with great energy that has a viscous, rich styling with a persistent and pleasing finish.
Your best option to get your hands on the new release of Chenin Blanc is to visit Spring House, the historic Victorian that is home to Lang & Reed’s tasting salon. Spring House is right off the hub of St Helena’s Main Street, where Tracey, John, Reed and Megan Skupny offer intimate, appointment-only tastings that allow visitors to get to know the family behind the brand.