Chardonnay Release


New Chardonnay Releases
2021 Rita’s Crown Vineyard
2021 Black Label

These wines are extremely limited
There’s only so much to spare of these wines as most of their case production is allocated to the current or upcoming Wine Club, so be sure to act fast.



Chardonnay Time!

We are pleased to announce the release 2021 Chardonnay, Rita’s Crown and 2021 Chardonnay, Black Label.

As we have mentioned before, 2021 was an excellent vintage, and the wines truly superlative.  The long cool season allowed very slow, measured ripening and retention of critical acidity. The wines turned out extraordinarily complex, with dramatic expressive aromas and flavors, but a very composed, almost regal structure. More a Daniel Craig version of James Bond, really, with thoughtfulness, depth, athleticism, and undeniable class.  These are being released a little later this year than last, as it did take a while for the flavors to come together. We expect that the 2021’s will be especially long-lived wines, very easily seeing their 10th or 15th birthdays in style.

The wines have not yet been reviewed, but we expect similar critical acclaim as the 2020 wines enjoyed last year (95-99 points from various critics).  These wines are made in tiny quantities and will not last long.

** NB: For Wine Club Members: The 2021 Chardonnay Rita’s Crown will be a wine club wine (Spring 2024 Shipment). Only a small amount will be available for purchase now. Of course, joining the Wine Club guarantees access to this special wine.

As our fans know (and the rest of the world is finding out) Sta. Rita Hills is truly one of the top places anywhere to grow Chardonnay grapes. The ocean influence moderates the abundant sunshine, allowing perfect ripeness at ideal acidity levels. Further, the marine-based soils and sea air provide mineral and saline aromas and flavors. Wines from here tend to have tremendous exuberance, but also impeccable balance, complexity and longevity. That said, it is the top growers that really produce knockout grapes. And, we have three of the absolute best sites represented here in these wines: Rita’s Crown, Bentrock & Radian.  It is a joy to work with these great growers and inspiring sites.

The Wines

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.

Shipping Information

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.



— John, Steve, Brandon
and the entire Dragonette Cellars team