Feature Coverage

Hyde de Villaine: Rediscovering California Chardonnay

ST. HELENA, CA (September 8, 2015) — Wilson Daniels winery partner Hyde de Villaine (HdV), under the stewardship of winemaker Stéphane Vivier and new general manager James Eyer, leads the quiet but  profound revolution in Chardonnay styles in California, matching changing consumer tastes for more food-friendly wines.

James Eyer, with his MBA from Sonoma State University and 15 years’ experience in food and beverage, joined HdV as general manager last fall. He sees the potential for Chardonnay’s renaissance in California and believes HdV can serve as a vehicle for the growing reputation of this more balanced and restrained style. “HdV has become recognized for its ability to produce high-quality Chardonnay made in a way that is not brash, oaky and high-alcohol,” says James. “It is our goal to continue this pursuit of balance and elegance with every one of our wines — white and red.”

HdV puts into practice what it preaches: “Many California producers take every opportunity to compare their Chardonnay to white Burgundy, yet their winemaking practices suggest just the opposite,” says James. “At HdV we are rooted in Burgundian philosophies, from our work in the vineyards to how we determine release dates for each wine.” Even with its prestigious French heritage, HdV is 100 percent dedicated to making great Napa Valley Chardonnay, and strives to be considered in a category of their own, separate from Burgundy.

The Wines
The 2012 vintage of the winery’s flagship Chardonnay, released earlier this year,comes from the fruit of older vines (17 to 36 years old) that began as Meursault cuttings planted in what is now a Wente selection block on Hyde Vineyard. Later, in 2010, the “Corton-Charlemagne section” block was planted on Hyde Vineyard from vine cuttings Josh Jensen brought from Burgundy to California, and is the source of fruit for the 2013 “De La Guerra” Chardonnay. Red wines include the 2011 “Californio” Syrah, made from Grange and Chapoutier’s Hermitage cuttings that now grow in the rocky soils of the creek bed on the eastern boundary of Hyde Vineyard, as well as a masterful blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from old vines on Hyde Vineyard (cuttings from the historic Inglenook estate) — the 2011 Belle Cousine.

The winery currently produces two Pinot Noirs: the Sonoma Mountain “Ysabel,” from the Van der Kamp Vineyard, the second-oldest Pinot Noir vineyard in California, and the Carneros “Ygancia.” After extensive tasting and assessment, the team has set fall 2016 as the release date for the 2013 “Ysabel” Pinot Noir, which will be available in very limited quantities for national distribution exclusively through Wilson Daniels. The 2013 “Ygnacia” Pinot Noir, the inaugural vintage of this wine, will be released this fall for distribution in California only.

Harvest 2015
Now in its 16th vintage, the team at HdV feels more confident than ever about the quality of fruit for this year’s harvest, despite what most Napa Valley growers agree to have been a very awkward growing season, due in part to lack of rain. The stress the vines have been under this year is likely to make the quality of the 2015 vintage exceptional, though low in terms of production. For winemaker Stéphane Vivier, this year’s “short and promising vintage” will yield fruit of outstanding quality that will result in “extremely intense wines showing freshness and minerality.”

About Hyde de Villaine
Old World meets New World in this family partnership between the Hydes of Hyde Vineyard (Carneros, Napa), their cousin Pamela (née Fairbanks), and her husband, Aubert de Villaine, co-director of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (Burgundy). From the very first vintage in 2000, Hyde de Villaine wines have shown their pedigree, fusing the finesse and balance of Old World winemaking with the exuberance of California fruit from the legendary Hyde Vineyard.

For further information, please visit https://www.wilsondaniels.com/our-portfolio/hyde-de-villaine-hdv  or contact Jennifer Brown — office 707.967.1827 | cell 707.478.5152 | jbrown@wilsondaniels.com.


September 8, 2015
Hyde de Villaine: Rediscovering California Chardonnay