2010 Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay
This Chardonnay comes from 39-year-old vines on the classic Santa Maria bench plantings of Bien Nacido. My goal is to make Chardonnay in a style that is bent towards more mineral and racy wines. The old vines that I work with at Bien Nacido only enhance this outcome and are a crucial element in this wine. We make Chardonnay in the most minimalist way possible. The fruit was picked early in the morning (when it is naturally cold) and pressed directly into a tank. As soon as the pressing is finished, the juice is put into barrel (1/4 new French oak) with all of its solids. The wine fermented completely dry through both primary and then later malolactic fermentation. It was then left to age (with only topping and small sulfur additions) until it was racked one year later. This wine was aged for 14 months on the lees and 19 months before being bottled unfiltered.
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar- 92 points, Nov/Dec 2012
Light yellow-gold. Deeply pitched, musky aromas of citrus pith and anise, with complicating honey, smoke and truffle nuances. Fat and round, but with underlying minerality giving energy to the flavors of lemon, lime, licorice and minerals. Shows restrained sweetness and excellent balance, and finishes on an almost saline mineral note.
Wine & Spirits- 96 points, Feb 2013
Gavin Chanin sources this wine from Bien Nacido’s W Block-some of the oldest wine material in the Santa Maria Valley. The Miller family planted the stony benchland to riesling in 1973, then grafted it over to Clone 4 chardonnay in 1990. (Chanin discovered this parcel of vines while working as an assistant winemaker at Au Bon Climat and Qupé, which share a winery on the property.) In 2010, the vines’ deep root systems grew a complex, resoundingly vinous chardonnay. Its flavors are reminiscent of particularly fine oolong tea, with refreshing herb and floral scents over a nutty, mineral bass line. At turns bombastic and lifted, powerful and nuanced, it’s a symphonic performance, with a sinewy texture that has plenty of room to evolve.