2021 Chardonnay, Rita’s Crown Vineyard (Sta. Rita Hills)
**WINE CLUB Wine – Spring 2024
Rita’s Crown sits majestically above the famous Mt. Carmel monastery at some of the highest elevations in the Sta. Rita Hills (up to 850 feet). Our blocks are located on very steep, south and southwest facing hillsides of clay and silty clay loam with abundant diatomaceous earth. The mighty pacific sends daily fog and intense afternoon winds to this high elevation site, which is perched over the Santa Ynez River as it meanders toward its terminus at Surf Beach. The remoteness and wildness of the site is enhanced by the abandoned wreck of the former monastery, which gives off a feeling of some ancient place like Greece or Italy that is similarly dry, parched and hardscrabble. The wines are as intense as the legends that one conjures in his mind, the skins thick from all the wind, produce strong phenolics, and the dustry dry soil promotes intensity.
The Chardonnay in this block typically produces relatively low yields from a small canopy. In 2021 yields were a mere 3.4 tpa (this is the equivalent yield from one famous grower in Batard Montrachet). These lower yields and a long cool season result in ripeness at incredibly strong acid levels (in 2021 final, post ML pH was 3.34, with TA of 6.3).
The 2021 wine fermented by native yeasts in top quality French oak barrels, 43% new. The resulting wine went through native malolactic fermentation in barrel and was aged for 18 months on its lees, without stirring, before selection, blending and bottling.
Not yet rated, the 2020 received 96 points from Vinous Media (Antonio Galloni) and 95 points from Jeb Dunnuck. Extremely Limited: Only 330 Cases Produced.
2021 Chardonnay, Black Label (Sta. Rita Hills)
This wine is a reserve-level blend of our favorite barrels from the vintage. The 2021 Black Label is crafted from three of the most extreme, wind-battered, sites in Sta Rita Hills (if not anywhere): rocky, windswept Bentrock (50%), steep, diatomaceous Rita’s Crown (33%) and the salty, marine and gale-force-wind-influenced Radian (17%). These difficult sites produce small clusters of thick skinned, tiny berry Chardonnay that has massive concentration, but also very high acids and a resounding mineral streak. The 2021 wine was fermented and aged on its lees in French oak barriques (67% new) with malolactic fermentation occurring spontaneously in barrel, and a finished pH of 3.29, with a TA of 6.5 g/L. These barrels have been a joy to taste since they completed ML (native). The resulting wine is aged for 18 months on its lees without stirring, before selection, blending and bottling.
This dramatic wine displays deep, concentrated aromas and flavors of fruit, minerals, spices and flowers, which are rich and incredibly present on the tongue in a medium to full bodied frame. The wine’s spectacular structure then takes over, with ripe, citrus and mineral acidity and the corseting effect of beautifully integrated, lightly toasted new oak. The wine has a terrific, complex finish that lasts for minutes and portends a fantastic future.
Not yet Rated, the 2020 version was 99 points Jeb Dunnuck, 96 points Galloni.
Extremely Limited – Only 150 cases produced.
As temps across the country peak, please note that we have Fedex refrigerated shipping available (if needed). Shipments go out every two weeks throughout the summer so no need to wait until Fall to enjoy these wines. Most areas have little or no upcharge for this service. We will, of course, check every shipment and let you know if temperature control is needed for yours. Orders in by Aug 20th are eligible to ship temperature controlled August 21st for delivery on August 29th/30th. The last mile of the delivery is via Fedex Express AM delivery and thus important for an adult to be present for your delivery day. Business addresses are highly advised for temperature sensitive shipments. We also have expedited AM deliveries with ice packs included available if time is of the essence.