The Vintage: 2016 welcomed the end of the 3-year drought with some ground soaking precipitation. The wet winter was followed by intermittent rains during a mild spring. There was some extreme heat in the region during mid-to late September, but our fruit was picked by then and our vineyard was not affected. The vines welcomed the drought-relief by producing a good quality bloom and fruit set, followed by a long growing season and a healthy harvest. Still, the yields in 2016 were slightly below average throughout the region. The 2016 berries were plump and juicy. The long, cool growing season produced a complexity in the juice that is compelling. The climate and rugged topography of our site conveys all the attributes so special and unique to this place; power, elegance and density balanced with minerality and brightness, all framed with a strong sense of the nearby ocean.
The Site: Organically farmed on the cool climate on the banks of the Santa Ynez River, the vines get a generous blanket of fog each night which allows the grapes to ripen slowly, keeping a nice acidity to balance the wine's floral notes. The vines slip through rocky, silty soil, which gives a foundation of minerality along with layers of floral, honey and stone-fruit all balanced by citrus notes and a hint of the coastal fog.
Tasting Notes: Coming from multiple blocks planted on Sorrento loam soils with varying degrees of shale, river cobble, silty clay and limestone, the 2016 is a really fine example of all that the Santa Rita Hills can offer. The 2016 has strong structure with a distinct brightness and smooth texture on the palate, while still maintaining its energy, tension & focus.
Winemaking: The grapes were harvested in the wee morning hours, hand sorted and pressed whole cluster to a stainless steel tank with very low amounts of SO2 where the juice settled for 24 hours. The juice was then racked to barrel where it fermented and rested on the lees for 12 months in mostly neutral French barrels and went through full malo. It was then racked to stainless steel tank for an additional 6 months prior to bottling in February 2018. There is about 15% new French oak in the finished wine. There was no acidification or chaptalization.
Vinous Review: The 2016 Chardonnay Estate is a very pretty wine, with plenty of bright citrus, saline, white pepper and floral overtones. The interplay of structure and translucent energy is compelling. Light tropical overtones add nuance throughout.
Rating: 93 Drinking Window: 2018-2024 ~ Antonio Galloni
The Wine Advocate Review: The 2016 Chardonnay is excellent, offering up lovely notes of pastry cream and buttered orchard fruit, followed by a crisp, medium-bodied palate with good mid-palate depth despite its understated style, built around a bright line of acidity and finishing with nice purity and persistence.
Rating: 91 Drinking Window: 2018-2025 ~ William Kelley