2014 Saintsbury Carneros Chardonnay (375ml)


Andre Tchelistcheff , the great Russian emigre winemaker/prophet, proclaimed that Carneros with its cool climate would one day produce Northern California’s best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Though a few growers and sparkling wine producers in the 1970s heeded his call and began planting vineyards in the district, it took a few years for a winery to focus on making a true Carneros Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. One of the pioneers in this area was Saintsbury.  Founded in 1981 by Richard Ward and David Graves (who had met in an oenology class at UC Davis) Saintsbury has always aimed to produce distinctive Pinot Noir and Chardonnay exclusively from the cool and windy terroir of Carneros. Starting small, success came quickly, with the winery growing to 35,000 cases within 10 years. Over the years, Saintsbury has focused almost entirely on single vineyard and appellation-designated Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – though recently it has begun to make wine from vineyards in the Anderson Valley and to produce some Carneros Syrah as well. Saintsbury was an early adopter of using varietal clones to improve their wine by, for example, planting a particular vineyard site with the most appropriate clones or by using clonal diversity to achieve more complexity. A few years ago, Saintsbury sold off its Garnet line of high value wines in order to focus on appellation-designated or single vineyard wines. Frenchman Jerome Chery, the winemaker since 2004, is a specialist in these sorts of wines.


Bright fruit, a hint of oak and crisp flavors make Saintsbury’s Carneros Chardonnay a great match for simple seafood or chicken dishes or mild cheeses. The terroir of rolling hills, loam and clay soils and a cool climate is one factor behind this distinctive Chardonnay. The variety of clones planted in the vineyards is another. In the winery, Saintsbury uses such Burgundian techniques as sur lie aging and battonage to extract more flavor and ensure that fruit and natural acidity remain in perfect balance. In 2014, just enough rain fell in early spring to mitigate the effects of an ongoing drought. A somewhat warmer summer led to fruit with concentrated tropical flavors. With excellent weather at harvest, the winery could extend picking to bring in grapes at optimum ripeness. The 375 ml bottle is great for weeknights or trips. 


The grapes were pressed gently in whole clusters, fermented in barrels, aged on the lees and subjected to mild stirring. The wine went through complete malolactic fermentation and aged for a total of 8 months in 20% new French oak.

Tasting notes

Zesty lime, pineapple and floral notes precede an energetic palate of tangy citrus, white peach and sweet spices. 








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