It was really an intellectual challenge to craft five distinct, high-end, $100 a bottle Chardonnays. I started out by selecting micro-blocks within meticulously farmed vineyards, some more than 40 years old. I matched this with time honored, old fashioned wine-making methods, utilizing wild yeast and extensive barrel aging without recourse to fining and filtration, with the goal of maintaining the most complete expression of the micro-blocks and their grapes, now enabled by climate change.
In mid-November when we premiered Checkmate's Chardonnays in New York City, we shined a light on a subject that is rarely spoken about in the wine industry: Climate change has made it harder to produce sophisticated Chardonnays in regions like Napa, that have, to this point, been recognized for them. Gregory Jones, PhD., of Southern Oregon University, one of the world's preeminent scientists and researchers on climate change in viticulture, came with us to present the research on how climate change is shifting the world wine map. Dr. Jones' research shows how the world's climatic band for wine-making is shifting ever-steadily north, favoring regions like the Okanagan Valley, with true cool climate viticulture, that can now produce competitive Chardonnays.