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A luxurious and elegant Chardonnay with enticing notes of grilled peach, lemon and toasted hazelnuts. The palate of bright fruit and honeycomb is beautifully framed by crisp acidity and has a rich texture that carries through to the long, clean finish.
Sanford Winery is a renowned pioneer of cool-climate wine from the Sta. Rita Hills, north of Santa Barbera. The legendary Sanford & Benedict vineyard was planted in 1971 by Richard Sanford and Michael Benedict, and from the very first vintages, they produced highly acclaimed wines of great complexity. In 1980, the team of Michael Benedict and Richard Sanford would go their separate ways. Richard Sanford continued to make the wines, and subsequently planted the La Rinconada vineyard adjacent to the original vineyard. In 2002, the Terlato family became partners, by 2007 they bought the entire vineyard and have been making exceptional wines from these two sustainably cultivated Cru vineyards ever since.
The fruit comes exclusively from the two estate vineyards in the cool-climate area of Sta. Rita Hills AVA: the Sanford & Benedict Vineyard and the La Rinconada Vineyard. The unusual east-west orientation of the nearby Santa Ynez Mountains, allows cooling maritime breezes from the Pacific Ocean- just seven miles away- to flow over the vineyards, bringing with them morning fog. Afternoon breezes dry out any residual moisture and reduce disease pressure on the vines and clusters. This distinctive mesoclimate promotes a long growing season. The vineyard is split into 52 blocks, each with individual soil composition and microclimate. Broadly, the marine-based soils in the ‘Sanford & Benedict Vineyard’ are a mixture of clay, loam, fractured shale and chert (rocky soil) which force the vine’s roots to dig deep into the soil for nutrients and hydration. The result is naturally low yields of small-berried, concentrated fruit delivering excellent minerality and acidity. The ‘La Rinconada Vineyard’ is made up of sandy, gravelly soil, which imparts precise minerality.
The 100% estate fruit was hand-harvested, carefully selected and then gently destemmed. Each block was vinified separately, to reflect the personality of the vineyard. The grapes were whole bunch pressed into French oak where the juice underwent barrel fermentation. The wine spent eight and a half months maturing in 225 litre French oak barrels, of which 20% was new, to ensure the essence of the fruit and the nuances of the terroir were preserved while obtaining a soft texture balanced by vibrant acidity.
A superior source of California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills is the coolest, westernmost sub-region of the larger Santa Ynez Valley appellation within Santa Barbara County. This relatively new AVA is unquestionably one to keep an eye on.
The climate of Sta. Rita Hills is a natural match for Chardonnay and Pinot noir, thanks to the crisp ocean breezes and well-drained, limestone-rich calcareous soil. Here, grapes ripen just enough, while retaining brisk acidity and harmonious balance.
90 Points - James Suckling
"Starting with the 2017 Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills Estate, it comes from the Sanford & Benedict and La Rinconada Vineyards and was aged in 20% new French oak. It offers a terrific bouquet of stone fruits, melon, honeysuckle, and spice, with just a hint of salty minerality. It's medium-bodied, has a balanced, elegant style, nicely integrated acidity, and is as classy Chardonnay. It should also evolve nicely for 4-5 years."
90 Points - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
"The 2017 Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills was barrel fermented and aged eight months in about 20% new oak. It has a very toasty nose with gunflint hints over baked yellow apple, white peach, pastry crust, lemon meringue and banana chip. Medium to full-bodied, it has a good core of toasty/savory fruits, with juicy acidity and a long finish."
92 Points - Wine Enthusiast
"Mellow aromas of Asian pear, butter-fried apple and a bit of canned pear show on the nose of this appellation blend. The compelling aspect is the grippy palate, which is taut in a chalky tension that presents flavors of sea salt, Pink Lady apple and red pear."
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