2015 Estate Chardonnay
The Vintage: The yields in 2015 were significantly lower throughout the region, in some cases, by as much as half, likely in response to the 3rd straight year of severe drought. The winter of 2015 was mild and dry and bud break came a few weeks early, and so, in turn, did harvest. The 2015 crop was small, both in tonnage and berry size. This creates a special opportunity for a dark and powerful Pinot Noir and bright, fresh Chardonnay due to more intense flavors concentrated in the juice and an increase in skin contact. The benefits of this combination are exciting! While the wines are showing beautifully now, they will be even richer and more elegant as they mellow in the months and years to come. These wines really convey all the attributes so special and unique to this place; power and density balanced with brightness all framed with a strong sense of the nearby ocean.
Production: 280 cases 13.5% alc.
The site: Organically farmed on the cool climate on the banks of the Santa Ynez River, the vines get 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 2015 is a great vintage for chardonnay, with increased brightness and minerality.
Winemaking: The grapes were pressed whole cluster with very low amounts of SO2, settled in tank for 24 hours, then racked to barrel where it fermented and rested 12 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 6 months prior to bottling and put to sleep these past 6 months. There is about 15% new French oak in the finished wine. There was no acidification or chaptalization.
Vinous Review: 93 Points
The 2015 Estate Chardonnay captures all the richness of the vintage, yet retains striking freshness, nuance and complexity. Lemon peel, white flowers, chamomile and a slight hint of reduction add nuance throughout. Medium in body and graciousness, the 2015 is all finesse. Ideal drinking window: 2017-2023 ~Antonio Galloni