Winemaking Philosophy

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Signorello Estate makes limited quantities of premium varietals that blend classic French wine making characteristics with California fruit. Our style of winemaking is directly tied to our vineyards. We strive for lush, concentrated fruit flavors, and good acid balance in all of our wines. The goal is to have wines with early accessibility, as well as the potential to develop additional complexity as they mature.

Winemaking Style

Signorello Estate began to develop a style of winemaking based on the idea of “winegrowing” described by a French word “Vigneron”. It means that everything done in the vineyards is intimately connected to the winemaking. This technique or style is used in the Burgundy region of France. Ray Signorello’s preferences and tastes are decidedly Burgundian; striving for lush fruit to produce rich Chardonnays, like those of Domaine Coche-Dury and Domaine Leflaive. The winery focuses on elegance, balance and depth thus producing magnificent Pinot Noir like those from Domaine de la Romanee-Conti and Domaine Leroy.

The gentle treatment the fruit receives when it first comes to the winery is also evident in the winemaking process. The white varietals go directly to temperature controlled, stainless steel tanks to settle off heavy sediment. From there they are pumped into French oak barrels (30% new barrels with medium and medium-plus toast) from coopers Francois Freres, Damy, and Latour. All of these coopers use wood type Allier, Troncais, and Vosges.

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Fermentation

Barrel Fermentation begins with the grapes own native yeast, this produces a wine with more complexity and a broader, creamier texture. Ultimately the wine will develop greater individuality and personality from allowing the native yeast to produce fermentation. After two to four weeks – when alcoholic fermentation is complete – 100% of the Chardonnay is inoculated and undergoes malolactic fermentation in barrels. The Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon are not inoculated for malolactic fermentation.

The red varietals are treated in a different manner. After de-stemming and triple sorting the grapes are fermented in four and eight-ton fermenters. The cap, (skins and pulp that rise to the surface during fermentation) is hand punched down twice per day. The red wines go through extended maceration periods, usually 25 to 35 days, to allow for a more natural balance of fruit and tannins. The juice of the red grapes is then pressed off the skins and settled in stainless steel tanks for two days. The wine is then inoculated for malolactic fermentation and racked into French oak barrels. The barrels are (medium-plus toast) from Saury, Nadalie, Tarransaud, and Darnajou. The Pinot Noir cooperage is very much like that used for the white wines.

Pinot Noir and the white varietals remain on the lees for the duration of the oak aging. The Cabernet Sauvignon is racked selectively, approximately four times before bottling. The white wines are also selectively fined and racked just before bottling. This careful handling allows the wines subtleties and finer nuances to stay in tact. (To this day, Signorello Estate is proud to say that their red wines have been bottled without filtration.)

The time the wine spends in the oak barrels varies according to varietal. The whites remains in barrels for approximately 8-17 months. The Pinot Noir ages for 17 months, while the Cabernet Sauvignon remains in the barrels an average of 19 months.

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Signature Wines

The Signature program consists of wines that Ray Signorello tastes throughout the time the wine is aging in the barrels. The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Cabernet Franc. This wine is dedicated to the memory of Ray Signorello Sr. and is called Padrone. The Signature Chardonnay consists of the finest barrels hand-selected by Ray Signorello Jr. to create the highly celebrated and delicious Hopes’ Cuvee, named after Ray Jr’s mother, Hope Signorello.

Devotion, is the word that best describes the intense attention the vineyards and wine receive in order to produce varietals that are softer and more subtle with complex fruit and balanced structure. Signorello Estate takes pride in producing world class wines that are very enjoyable upon release yet can benefit from additional bottle aging.