2017 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.


The secret to this energetic and zesty Chardonnay is the Carneros terroir of gentle rolling hills and flats, loam and clay soils, and, above all, a bank of fog that rolls in regularly from San Pablo Bay. But vineyards planted to over ten clones of Chardonnay and decades of winemaking experience also shape the complexity and nuance of this wine. Burgundian techniques such as sur lie aging and battonage extract flavor and ensure that fruit and natural acidity remain in perfect balance. While winter rains were plenty and temperatures moderate for most of the summer, the 2017 harvest was a challenge - not least due to the great fires in October. Fortunately, the grapes for this wine had long been picked by that time. The wine is a moderate 13.5% alcohol and tastes fresh and zippy. It will pair well with braised chicken with lemon and olives, grilled whole fish, or creamy cheeses. The 375 ml bottle size will open up your meals to more creative wine choices!


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 10% new French oak.

Tasting notes

Green apple, lime and pineapple aromas open up to a palate of energetic citrus, white peach and cloves. Moderate acidity gives the wine structure and the citrus flavors linger in the finish. 








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