2011 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 is picked early in the morning (so that it is naturally cold) and pressed directly into a tank. As soon as the pressing is finished, the juice is put into barrel (1/3 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 16 months before being bottled unfiltered.
2011 will go down as a very challenging year for California. However, sites that escaped exposure to wind during flowering, and later frosts, produced beautiful fruit. Also, growers who invested time and labor into their vineyards were able mitigate the challenging year at a great cost of wine quantity but maintained great quality. The two barrels of Bien Nacido produced reflect this dedication. Our block produced only 20% of its average yield.
The palate is clean, long and refreshing with a delicious sweet core. With great fruit at only 12.72 % alc., this wine really shows off what great farming can do in challenging years.
Antonio Galloni’s Vinous.com- 93+ points, July 2013
Chanin's 2011 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard is one of the very best wines I tasted from this historic vineyard. Focused, bright and articulate, the 2011 is laced with lemon peel, crushed rocks and white flowers. The style is deeply marked by pure energy, focus and tension. My sense is that the 2011 will be even better in another few years.
Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate- 91 points, August 2013
Richer and more mineral-driven, with a masculine profile of baked apple, crushed stone, baking bread and lemon custard, the 2011 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard flows onto the palate with a full, layered mid-palate, racy acidity and a lengthy finish. There’s some tartness on the acid front, yet this holds it together and will benefit from 6-12 months in the cellar and drink nicely for 2-4 years. Drink now-2017.