2015 Chardonnay, Rita’s Crown Vineyard
Rita’s Crown is a spectacular vineyard at some of the highest elevations in the Santa Rita Hills. Located right above the historic Mount Carmel monastery, our chardonnay block is incredibly steep and windswept. The block faces south/southwest and has an incredible view of much of the notable, even famous vineyards along Santa Rosa Road. Up here, one feels a certain indescribable timelessness, although one knows intuitively that vineyards have only been in the area for 40 years. It is as if the land had been waiting a long time for us, although she certainly seems to relish making it difficult to grow grapes here. Then again, great wines are born of grapes that struggle. Soils here are sand and clay loam, with large deposits of diatomaceous earth, giving the sand a ghostly white color and reflecting heat off the ground. The winds are constant and strong, with a feeling of saltiness from the nearby ocean and a decided marine chill. The chardonnay from the site struggles to grow, though we have been able to coax a reasonable canopy and a small yield of intensely flavored grapes. A strong sensation of minerals and chalk seems to permeate the resulting wines, despite their intense tropical and stone fruits and laser-like acidity. The wines are dramatic, even magisterial. It is indeed a special place. The 2015 wine was harvested in two separate passes and each fermented separately in French oak barrels, 20% new. The resulting wine aged for 16 months on its (very clean) lees without stirring, before selection, blending and bottling. This wine is extremely limited and almost completely reserved for wine club, as a mere 220 cases were produced. The wine received a glowing review and 93 points from Antonio Galloni in Vinous Media, wherein he stated: “The 2015 Chardonnay Rita’s Crown captures all the phenolic and structural intensity that is such a signature of this site. Tangerine, apricot and floral notes make a strong first impression. Even with all of its fruit depth, the 2015 has an intense saline quality that is impossible to miss. What a gorgeous wine this is!” Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media, September 2017.