Yes, the Santa Barbara appellation is the home to some of the most compelling Chardonnays produced in the state. It has something to do the pockets of very special marine soils, the cool weather during the growing season AND a new generation of extremely gifted and skilled winemaking phenoms. On this night, we were fortunate to taste some real standouts!!!
2010 Brewer Clifton Chardonnay “Santa Rita Hills”–a very flamboyant, snazzy and highly acclaimed wine–the most forward of the group. A blend of 3 estate vineyards. The wine now being 7 years old, the transparency, clarity & minerality is starting to re-emerge & strutting its stuff. Drinking nicely.
2010 Tyler Chardonnay “Zotovich Vineyard”–Owner/winemaker Justin Willett’s wines feature such purity, precision & sophistication. The 2010 “Zotovich” Chardonnay was really the first Tyler show stopping Chardonnay. Yes, previous renditions were really good, but this one had extra star power somehow. Thanks Gayle & Vern for sharing. Right out of the gates, it was pure, so ethereal & quite sublime in comparison to the 2010 Tyler Chardonnay “Clos Pepe Vineyard”, which also featured the Dijon clone 76, grown right down the road across the street. In comparison, the Clos Pepe was much firmer, much more stark & somehow a little thicker. (this was also the last vintage Tyler bottled Clos Pepe Chardonnay). On this night, the Zotovich was very pretty, light & ethereal. I loved its wonderful purity, grace & charm. The Clos Pepe, in comparison was strutting its stuff in all its glory. Lots of minerality!
2013 Chanin Chardonnay “Sanford & Benedict Vineyard”–Sanford & Benedict, in my opinion, tops the list of single vineyards for Chardonnay & Pinot Noir in California. This is the 2013 from phenom Gavin Chanin…..from the own rooted vines (Mt Eden selection) planted in 1971. The wine was aged in oak, sur lie, for 15 months, only 10% new. The 2013 is a stud–lots of brawn & fortitude, intensely structured & quite masculine. You should put this away for a few years before popping the cork.
2013 Hilt Chardonnay “Old Guard”–In my opinion, there is a new kingpin in town made by winemaker Matt Dees of Jonata (Screaming Eagle’s sister wine project). In fact, on our last trip to California, the Hilt wines were certainly THE standouts & this wine should show you why. The 2013 is mainly organically farmed 40+ year old, own rooted Mt Eden selection from Sanford & Benedict vineyard, aged in old oak barrels ala the Old Guard of the Santa Barbara winegrowing area. The 2013 is very masculine, studly, virile with lots of mojo & stony character–very different stylistically from Clendenen at Au Bon Climat & Adam Tolmach at Ojai. Definitely worth searching out for.
1994 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay “Le Bouge D’ a-cote”–thanks to Carl for bringing this absolutely stunning wine to share. I was so blown away with the nose–so complex, fine, minerally & mesmerizing. Most tasters thought it was Burgundy. Yes, the minerality really did shine! On the palate this 1994 was surprisingly light & ethereal, so divinely seamless, well textured & wonderfully balanced. Talk about drinking a wine at a prefect time of its life! I would suggest, however, you drink up those remaining bottles you may have stashed. It is too good at this point to let it just sit there in the cellar.