This Chardonnay must had it's vital statistics taken; it was tested for Brix, pH and nitrogen (YAN) levels and, after being inoculated with a commercial yeast, it is now enthusiastically frothing through fermentation. The barrels on the other side of the aisle with a different yeast selection are, by comparison, staidly going about their business.
The Cross Evolution (CE) yeast being used, in this particular fermentation, is a hybrid yeast from a breeding programme at the Institute for Wine Biotechnology at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. Here in the US, at the winery where I am gainfully employed, CE is selected for it's ability to increase mouthfeel/texture and enhance varietal characteristics in Chardonnay. But, perhaps more importantly, CE is chosen because it is tolerant of high potential alcohol (up to 15%, important for Napa wine) and can withstand fermentation temperatures as low as 58 F (important for a non-ML Chardonnay).
Vinomaker, unlike me, is quite a Chardonnay fan and was drooling, just as much as this bubbling barrel, at the thought of the finished 2011 wine.