2014 Estate Chardonnay
The Vintage: The 2014 vintage has its own signature, perhaps from the vines enduring the 2nd full year of severe drought. The benefits of training the vines to go deep (with low-irrigation) and regular application of thick blankets of mulch (to hold in moisture), have definitely assisted in lowering the stress on the vines. Overall, the yields were actually higher than usual for most of the region, including Wenzlau Vineyard. Perhaps it was some panic in the vines that caused the higher production in even our pruned-to-extra-low-yield vines. The winter of 2014 was mild and dry and bud break came a few weeks early, and so, in turn, did harvest. The result for this vintage is very fresh, mineral, deeply soulful, and pure juice. These wines really convey all the attributes so special and unique to this place; precision, clarity, and power all framed with a strong sense of the nearby ocean.
The site: Organically Farmed
The cool climate on the banks of the Santa Ynez River gets a generous blanket of fog each night which allows the grapes to ripen slowly, keeping a nice acidity to balance the wine. The vines struggle to push through rocky, silty soil, so there is the signature minerality which is balanced and layered with floral, honey and stone-fruit notes.
Tasting Notes: Coming from multiple blocks planted on Sorrento loam soils with varying degrees of shale, river cobble, silty clay and limestone, the Estate Chardonnay is a really fine example of all that the Santa Rita Hills can offer. Wenzlau Estate Chardonnay always has a distinct texture and roundness while still maintaining its freshness, energy, tension & focus — a combination few vineyards in the area can achieve. The 2014 is a great vintage for chardonnay, and this is maybe our favorite bottling to date.
Winemaking: The wine saw 14 months in mostly neutral French barrels, on the lees the whole time and went through full malo. It was then racked to stainless steel tank for an additional 4 months prior to bottling and put to sleep these past 6 months. There is about 18-20% new French oak in the finished wine. There was no acidification or chaptalization.
Vinous Review: The 2014 Chardonnay Estate is one of the most distinctive of the wines I tasted from Wenzlau this year. Bright lemon, mineral, salt and chalk give the Chardonnay its bright, salivating personality, but there is plenty of understated depth and structure lying in reserve. This is an impressive, powerful yet also reserved Chardonnay from one of the top vineyard sites in the Sta. Rita Hills.