Peering down the hill from Villa Angeli, one can plainly see the outline of Ballard Canyon’s retired dirt landing strip. Today, the runway is clearly delineated by straight, narrow rows of Roussanne vines running up and down the valley’s length. These late ripening, low yielding old vines carry the potential to deliver one of the most opulent, coating white wines in the world.
The 2013 vintage demonstrates the tight rope of pleasurable richness dialed back with balancing, lively energy. 15% Chardonnay, blended into the L’Avion cuvée for the first time, adds brightness to the wine and a pop of freshness on the finish. Blending other varietals into L’Avion harkens back to 2007 and even older vintages, when we would add Viognier to intensify the wine’s fruit and occasionally Sauvignon Blanc for acid.
While not quite as opulent as the richest 2008 vintage, the 2013 L’Avion is much more exuberant than the 2009 and 2011 vintages, which were quiet upon release and took a few years to leap out of their shells.
AT THE WINERY
In 2013 we experimented with Chateau Beaucastel’s pressing protocol: gently increasing pressure over an extended period that aims to softly extract more texture and flavor. We segregated multiple tiers of juice based on pressure levels. The effort resulted in Roussanne so supple, Sashi Moorman decided to use his secret ingredient, Chardonnay, to give the wine a zesty kick on the finish.
As is the tradition with L’Avion, the wine fermented and aged in 100% new French 500L Puncheons. Bottled in June of 2015, the wine greatly benefits from bottle age, giving time for the fruit flavors to unfurl and the new oak influence to retreat, becoming a secondary influence.
Classic golden pineapple shines through with hints of sweet citrus. Fresh-cut cedar, Asian spices, and toasted walnuts. Although brighter than most vintages, the 2013 still possesses a core of fresh cut honeysuckle.
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