It was in 2011 when I first visited Gavin Chanin who had just launched his own winery after an apprenticeship at Au Bon Climat and Qupé with Jim Clendenin and Bob Lindquist (to read that article click here ). Gavin could not have had better mentors. I have known Jim since before he launched Au Bon Climat and Bob since he launched Qupé. Jim makes many different wines but specializes in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Bob specializes in Rhone varietals. Both have made consistent very high quality wines for decades. They are both legendary in their achievements and were early proponents of Santa Barbara wines. When they began Santa Barbara wines were virtually unknown. And, The Underground Wineletter was there from the beginning with very positive reviews on their wines and other wines from the new wine area of Santa Barbara (to read some old issues of The Underground Wineletter click here ).
Now Gavin is well on his way to becoming a legend in his own time as well. Gavin is very much a hands on winemaker who is involved in farming and harvesting as well as winemaking and marketing including creating new artwork for the label of each new wine. The fruit for Chanin wines comes from the exact same sections and vines every year. Gavin says this is really important because there is something to learn from every harvest. He thinks that is lost if the fruit comes from different parts of the vineyard each year. Also Gavin is very particular with the soils that he works with. So typically Gavin’s wines come from fruit that represents only a very small section of each vineyard. The vines in each vineyard are old. The Sanford & Benedict vines were planted in 1972, the Bien Nacido vines were planted in 1973, and Los Alamos was planted in the late 60s, but the fruit for Chanin wines comes from vines that date back 25 years. Gavin has always searched out old vines, especially for Chardonnay, as he believes that old vines add a depth and minerality that the young vines just do not have. Every vineyard that Gavin works with has their own farming team. In some vineyards he is deeply involved in all the decisions, even pruning and day to day work. In others he does not have or need much of a say. The key for Gavin is that there needs to be trust and collaboration to make a great wine. And, for him, it is sometimes not ideal to have to make all the farming choices. Instead he would rather work with talented people who bring their own skills to the vineyard. His view is that winemakers often take more credit than they are due on the farming side so he wants to make sure to give credit where it is due.
With regard to the 2017 vintage here is what Gavin says:
I love the 2017 vintage. I think it takes a few years to really get a sense of a vintage. But 2017 made very classic, racy wines. I think they are great now but will really age gracefully for a very long time to come. They remind me a bit of 2013, 2016 and maybe 2008, which were some of my favorite chardonnay vintages. I also loved how challenging the 2017 vintage was. If you didn’t pick before the heat wave you were in a lot of trouble. We worked very hard and made some tough decisions that ended up going our way.
And, now over 10 years since the beginning here is how Gavin sums up his endeavors:
Chanin wines are handmade from what I truly think are some of the most important vineyards not just in Santa Barbara but in California. Every wine is unfiltered and made using techniques that date back more than 100 years. I also think we are at a great place right now. We work with old vines but enjoy the cool but sun soaked climate here. This combined with an old school/ old world philosophy leads to wines that represent California while also being able to stand with some of the best wines made world wide. And, the price of our wines also sets them apart. In the case of the 2017 Chardonnays the price is $35-$45 a bottle. There are just not that many hand made, age worthy wines for $35 a bottle anymore.
So there you have it. Great wines at great prices. That’s a win/win!
Below are notes on the stunning 2017 Chanin Wine Company Chardonnay releases.
The Hat Trick: Three Stunning 2017 Chardonnays
Wow! These new 2017 Chardonnay releases from Chanin Wine Company are three of the most finesseful and flavorful California Chardonnays I have ever tasted. The combination of finesse and flavor is rare for California Chardonnays. But here it is found in all three of these Chardonnays which are made from fruit grown in some of the oldest vineyards in Santa Barbara. Don’t miss these wines! If you value this style of Chardonnay as much as I do, you will want to join me in buying the wines while they are available (click here  to order wine, join the wine club and find out more about Chanin Wine Company wines).
2017 Chanin Wine Company Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley
Very light yellow in color this Chardonnay has a deep perfume with subtle floral nuances accented by citrus and mineral undertones. Very elegant with lovely very pure fruit showing hints of citrus and a faint hint of white peach the wine is very expressive and impeccably balanced. With a long lingering finish this Chardonnay has it all – style, finesse, and flavor. Enjoy it now for its youthful charm or lay it away and enjoy the added nuances that will come with additional bottle age – Extraordinary. $40 875 cases produced
2017 Chanin Wine Company Chardonnay Sanford & Benedict Vineyard Santa Rita Hills
Very light yellow in color this Chardonnay has a deep perfume with floral and citrus nuances and a tinge of white peach accented by a faint mineral tinge. With great elegance, the wine also has great intensity and flavor. Complex flavors show floral and citrus tinges with faint hints of white peach and a faint mineral undertone. With a long finish, this is a gorgeous Chardonnay in a wonderfully rendered style. And yes drink it now or drink it later or even much later. The choice is yours. Don’t miss this Chardonnay – Extraordinary. $45 275 cases produced
2017 Chanin Wine Company Chardonnay Los Alamos Vineyard Santa Barbara County
Pale yellow in color this Chardonnay has a gorgeous perfume with subtle hints of citrus and pineapple with a faint mineral tinge. Bright and crisp, while also showing elegance and finesse this chardonnay has lots of fruit and flavor again with citrus and pineapple nuances. This is a stunning and very pure Chardonnay that should evolve beautifully over a long period of time. But, that is only if you can resist drinking it now. So now or later it’s your choice. But don’t miss it. It is also a great bargain – Extraordinary. $35 675 cases produced
And remember when you buy Chanin Wines you are buying wines from a very talented winemaker who is also a very talented artist. Every bottle is adorned with unique art work done by Gavin. So the bottles are unique and as lovely to look at as they are delicious to drink. That’s another win/win!