From the initial vintage, in 1989, our goal in creating this wine was to make a unique, non-traditional blend. Conundrum’s distinctive character has met that test and has become a sought after wine for many diverse cuisines enjoyed today. One of my favorite comments from people who taste Conundrum for the first time is “I’ve never tasted a white wine like this before.”
The “puzzle” of Conundrum—we never reveal its exact composition—comes in part from the range of grape varieties we use, in part from where and how the grapes are grown, and in part from the way we treat each vineyard lot in winemaking before making the final blend.
Conundrum is truly a California wine, including grapes from the Napa, Monterey, Santa Barbara and Tulare counties. For the 2005 vintage, grapes were brought in over a two and a-half month period beginning August 30th - a couple weeks later than normal. Sauvignon Blanc was first, coming from eight different Napa Valley vineyards, where the warm weather can bring out this grape’s green-melon-like character at one vineyard site and its fresh-cut-grass character at another site. The next grape variety to ripen was Muscat Canelli, from warm Tulare County. Muscat is the grape that gives Conundrum its high-toned, floral aroma, along with some equally floral, cool-climate Viognier we grew in Monterey County. We also grew most of our Chardonnay and other varietals in Monterey County, one of the coolest, driest growing regions in California. The long season there—we harvested Chardonnay through November 19—allows the grapes to develop deeply ripe flavors and golden color while retaining great natural acidity.
Because we wanted to maintain the individual character of each grape variety from each vineyard site, we chose to ferment about one-quarter of the lots in stainless steel (to maintain freshness and crispness). For complexity and texture, we fermented and aged most of the wines, three-quarters, in oak barrels, some new and some seasoned, for up to ten months. When it was time to put the blend together, we had almost sixty different flavor layers to work with.
To me, this vintage shows an exceptional integration of these layers, with aromas of peach/apricot and honeysuckle; flavors of apricot, green melon and pear backed by notes of tropical fruit and spicy vanilla; a lush, creamy texture; and a crisp, balancing finish with lingering notes of citrus.
Our decision to bottle Conundrum with a twist-top has had a very positive response. As winemaker and someone who insists on wines without faults, I believe this closure is the right tool to protect the aromas and flavors that developed in the vineyards, were preserved in the winery and bottled – an artistic creation.
Suggested serving temperature: Lightly chilled ?
Release: September 2006