We don’t talk about our Chard much. Chardonnay is the most planted grape in California, just edging out Cabernet Sauvignon, and epithets such as “cougar juice” and “Danville crack” don’t help. There is also an undeniable Chardonnay-ness that creeps into some bottlings, like the weaponized encapsulation of piercing headache/pineapple daquiri/Naugahyde/drying paint that some people are super sensitive to. The danger is real, and styles vary widely.
But, Chardonnay is also a fascinatingly ductile puzzle. Our vines go back to 1990, and in 2010 I took a chainsaw to our then-20-year old Chardonnay vines, planning to graft them over to Greco. But we couldn’t get the grafter, and eventually the project fell apart when we missed the narrow grafting window. It turned out to be a blessing since cutting back the middle-aged vines removed some unhealthy bits and allowed a more spontaneous approach to growing them. In fact, half of them are not trellised now, growing like mid-century, head-pruned relics. And I slowly caught the Chard bug – could we make a ripe, fuller-style wine that still had balance and showcased the warmer-climate side while still holding the energetic palate of these older vines?
The wine: Definitely Chardonnay, but not the super ripe kind, nor Chablis-style taut lemon juice. The baked pear core is there, offset to the right by green apple savory crispness and riper yellow fruits on the left. Some spice shows through as well, like white pepper and a touch of tannin. Unfined, unfiltered, and bottled after 9 months in stainless steel.
Label Image: “The sublimation is a purification of the Matter by means of Dissolution. This operation is repeated several times, which is why Saturn is about to cut the single stem showing the Star, the Moon, and the Sun (which are the First, Second, and Third works).”
Retail Price $22, club reorder $18.
"Winemaker Pietro Buttita has a sure hand with at least a dozen varietals, and this Chardonnay is no exception. Livened up by good, bracing acidity, this beautifully ripe and smooth wine has great balance and plenty of attractive pear, apple and peach flavors."