- Item #: i_206040Bottle Size: 750mlWine Spectator: 92Vinous Media: 92Jeb Dunnuck: 94There is an alluring charm to the entire Central Coast wine producing region, but it was Santa Rita Hills that called to Greg Brewer and Steve Clifton. Besides the beauty of the land, the climate and the soil compositions there was a freshness in the air as the cool Pacific Ocean breeze filtered through the canyons and subsequent vineyards planted. For many years the two farmed the land and made outstanding wine, even earning praise from top critic Robert Parker Jr: "Two brilliant young winemakers, Greg Brewer and Steve Clifton, are symbolic of both the present and future of California high quality wine production." While the winery has been sold, Greg Brewer remains on board as head winemaker ensuring the vision both himself and Steve had along with the quality of the wine doesn't change for many years to come!
With the goal of expressing a comprehensive expression of the appellation, Brewer-Clifton selected four unique vineyard sites to create this Santa Rita Hills bottling. This blend is comprised of 3D, Machado, Acin, and Hapgood vineyards. As each vineyard has its own unique requirements, the winery manages each according to their inimitable needs rather than a macro approach to farming. Brewer-Clifton works to achieve a natrual balance between the site, the vines, the aspect and the microclimates in each vineyard, using sustainable and/or organic farming methods whenever possible.
JEB DUNNICK 94 POINTS - "This is another brilliant lineup from Greg Brewer, and these Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs (as well as a terrific Syrah) are up with the finest wines in this report. These wines are never shrinking violets and have loads of fruit and texture, yet they always show singular characters, stunning balance, and weightless, elegant textures that make them a joy to drink. I think they're some of the finest Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays coming out of California today."
"Starting with the Chardonnays, the 2018 Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills is a winner and is ideal for readers looking to understand the Sta. Rita Hills as well as the style of the wines at Brewer-Clifton. Medium gold, with a great nose of Meyer lemons, caramelized orchard fruits, hints of sappy herbs, and a touch of seaside-like salinity and minerality, it's medium to full-bodied and has a rounded, elegant texture, nicely integrated acidity, and a clean, classy finish."
ANTONIO GALLONI 92 POINTS - "The 2018 Chardonnay (Sta. Rita Hills) is vivid and expressive. Like so many of the wines here, the Chardonnay needs a good bit of air to show at its best. Once that happens, the wine's textural breadth and dimension emerge beautifully. Lemon confit, dried pear, mint and dried herbs are all laced together. This appellation Chardonnay is deep, savory and phenolic, all of which make it an excellent choice for the dinner table. It is the hidden gem in this range. Vineyard sites are 3D, Machado and Hapgood."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "The 2018 Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills has very pretty aromas of perfumed quince, pears and peaches with notes of honey and hazelnuts and a bright lemon peel lift. The light to medium-bodied palate is slow to unfold to delicate, seamlessly fresh fruits with savory bass tones and a long, lifted finish. 2,500 cases produced."
- Item #: i_215880Bottle Size: 750mlJeb Dunnuck: 93Dragonette strives to create Chardonnays of textural purity, complexity and balance with classic tension. Complexity and balance are achieved by meticulous attention to detail in the vineyard, where each vineyard block is managed for appropriate canopy and proper yields. Tension and textural purity begin in the vineyard with low yields and balanced acidity at harvest. Native yeast fermentation in clean oak cooperage and aging on the lees aid in preserving the purity of texture. Dragonette ages their wines on their lees, without racking, and constant topping. Moreover, each wine is bottled only after sufficient time in barrel to permit ideal evolution. The SRH blend is constructed from these individual components selected for diversity of site and soils to create complexity and harmony. This year, the wine is a blend of fruit from Donnachadh, Spear, and Bentrock vineyards, which are all organically or sustainably farmed.
JEB DUNNUCK 93 POINTS - "Moving to the Chardonnay releases, the 2018 Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills reveals a medium gold hue as well as a textbook, classy bouquet of golden apples, citrus blossom, spice, and salty minerality. A textbook Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay, it's medium-bodied and has a wonderful texture as well as a great finish. Readers looking to learn what topflight Chardonnay from this region tastes like should latch onto bottles."
- Item #: i_249370Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 90Vinous Media: 92Named after Fess' daughter, Ashley, this Chardonnay represents the best of the acclaimed Sta. Rita Hills growing region. The majority of the grapes come from a vineyard developed by the Parker family in 1996 situated only 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean. This hillside sites, sandy soils, persistent ocean breezes and fog make for a cold growing environment; the perfect scenario for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This wine shows pear, green apple, citrus, and lemon cream flavors complemented by attractive mineral notes with vanilla and toasty oak notes.
ANTONIO GALLONI 92 POINTS - "The 2017 Chardonnay Ashley's is super-expressive. Lemon confit, white flowers, mint and white pepper all grace this open-knit, beautifully resonant Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay. Rich and unctuous on the palate, yet with terrific floral lift and brightness, the Ashley's is a winner in this range from Fess Parker."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 90 POINTS - "Shy on the nose with toast and smoke to begin, the 2017 Chardonnay Ashley's Vineyard slowly opens to lemon pith, Red Delicious apple, dried hay and white apricot. It's citrusy and minerally in the mouth and light to medium-bodied, with juicy acidity and a textured finish."
- Item #: i_238710Bottle Size: 750mlDelightfully elegant floral notes of orange blossom, linden, and honeysuckle awaken your senses. Flavors are fresh and inviting on the palate with bright minerality complemented by zippy tangerine fruit. Soft oak notes linger on the finish with flavors of nutmeg, vanilla and toasted pecans. This 2016 has enough body to stand up to a wide array of foods and the balance to drink well on its own.
- Item #: i_275370Bottle Size: 750mlThe Santa Rita Hills is a small appellation at the western end of the Santa Ynez Valley that has gained national recognition for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Valley runs west to east, opening a gap in the coastal range, allowing the late afternoon ocean fog to roll in where it lingers until early morning. The surrounding hills trap the fog before it is dissipated in the wider Santa Ynez Valley. The fog cools the vines from the day's summer heat and it is this combination of warm days and cool nights that gives the wine its complexity as well as providing acidity to give it structure.
The 2018 Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay is a golden hay color with mild aromas of lemon zest,cantaloupe, and jasmine. Flavors of crisp pear, crushed gravel, and almond complete the palate.
- Item #: i_236870Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 92Jeb Dunnuck: 92WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "The 2016 Chardonnay Golden Slope wafts from the glass with an expressive bouquet of buttered apples, smoke, toasted nuts, brioche and honeycomb. On the palate, it's medium-bodied, glossy and ripe, but remains fresh and succulent, finishing with good length and back-end grip. While it's one of the more open-knit, pleasure-bent of these Liquid Farm Chardonnays, it finds an appealing natural balance that also made it one of my favorites."
JEB DUNNUCK 92 POINTS - "The 2016 Chardonnay Golden Slope saw 15% new French oak, the balance was in neutral oak. Honeyed apples, melon, and ample mineral notes all flow to a rich, medium to full-bodied, mouthfilling effort that has nicely integrated acidity, solid mid-palate depth, and a big finish. It’s another outstanding wine from winemaker James Sparks that will keep for 5-7 years."
- Item #: i_236780Bottle Size: 750mlVinous Media: 94Jeb Dunnuck: 93Liquid Farm's "White Hill" bottling is the leaner and more Chablisiane of their two Chardonnay bottlings. Comprised of fruit from some of the best vineyards in the area, White Hill highlights the unique salinity that comes through in the ancient soils of Santa Rita Hills. The style of this wine will always be racier and predominately neutral barrel fermentation. Its profile is that of mineral, yellow peach, fresh Asian pear, salinity, linen, candied ginger, and lavender cream.
ANTONIO GALLONI 94 POINTS - "The 2018 Chardonnay White Hill is bright and beautifully focused. Lemon oil, white flowers and tropical accents give this mid-weight, layered Chardonnay tons of character. Chamomile, apricot, sage, crushed rocks and mint develop later, adding striking dimensions of complexity. The 2018 is a blend from Clos Pepe, Kessler-Haak and La Rinconada, sites that are so complementary."
JEB DUNNUCK 93 POINTS - "Starting with the 2018 Chardonnay White Hill, which was brought up in a mix of neutral oak and stainless steel, it reveals a light gold hue to go with a great bouquet of caramelized citrus, white flowers, brioche, and salty minerality. Vibrant, fresh, medium-bodied, and elegant on the palate, it's beautifully done and should evolve for over a decade in cold cellars."
- Item #: i_241090Bottle Size: 750MLVinous Media: 93Jeb Dunnuck: 92This wine is 100% from Melville's Sta. Rita Hills estate and is a combination of clones 4, 76, 95, and selections Mount Eden, Hanzell and Wente. It is their core Chardonnay and comes predominantly from their west side vineyards that have several different types of sandy soils. Because the west side receives the brunt of brutal ocean-winds and has only poor soils, we feel this Chardonnay always captures the vibrancy, minerality and concentrated flavors that are hallmarks of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA.
ANTONIO GALLONI 93 POINTS - "The 2017 Chardonnay Estate is fascinating to taste next to the 2018. It is a bit less exotic and more citrus driven in profile, with notable persistence and fine overall balance. Lemon confit, baked apple and a kiss of new French oak meld together effortlessly. A hint of reduction add character without overpowering the wine."
JEB DUNNUCK 92 POINTS - "A terrific value, the 2017 Chardonnay Estate Sta. Rita Hills offers classic Sta. Rita Hills notes of spice citrus, salted orchard fruits, honeysuckle, and crushed rock-like minerality. Beautifully textured, medium-bodied, with high yet integrated acidity, it can be drunk today or cellared for upwards of a decade."
- Item #: i_252650Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 92Vinous Media: 93Racines is a collaboration of four great voices of wine. Justin Willett of Lieu Dit and Tyler has been joined in his home appellation, the Sta. Rita Hills, by Etienne de Montille and Brian Sieve of Domaine de Montille, and Rodolphe Peters of Pierre Peters. Together, they are marrying the time-honored techniques of Burgundy and Champagne with the pioneering energy of California-and, in the process, they are rediscovering the nuances of the appellation's most iconic vineyards.
Following the consolidation of Domaine de Montille, a family estate that dates back to the 1730s, Etienne de Montille looked to California, eager for an opportunity to engage new terroir with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as his lens. In 2016 he set off on a month of travel among the state's myriad appellations, meeting their winemakers, tasting their wines. In short order it became apparent that the promise he was seeking lay in the Sta. Rita Hills-and the partner for such ambition was already there.
By 2016 Justin Willett, a son of Santa Barbara and career winemaker, had over a decade of experience coaxing forth the character of the region's best vineyards. Etienne and Justin turned to compelling vineyard blocks that Justin had long coveted, and together they have presented refreshing new entries in the most important discussions of the appellation. And then, of course, there's Rodolphe Peters. In 2018, Rodolphe joined Racines in deepening their understanding of Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay. Their first sparkling wines, now en tirage, are likely to debut in late autumn.
The wines here possess more structure and resonance than encountered in Tyler's ethereal approach. New cooperage and custom vats, tailored to Etienne's technique, have been imported. The Pinots are composed using further stem inclusion, more extraction, and longer vatting. The Chardonnays are raised with more finessing of the fine lees and longer elevage. The results are immediately apparent in the glass: these are tensile and crystalline expressions of the Sta. Rita Hills- at once familiar and rendered anew.
ANTONIO GALLONI 93 POINTS - "The 2017 Chardonnay Sanford and Benedict has plenty of depth, texture and nuance, but it is also surprisingly tightly wound for a vintage in which wines are generally more open-knit. Bright, savory and intensely mineral, the 2017 is going to need time to soften. At this point, the 2017 is not terribly expressive of S-and-B, although it is quite attractive just the same."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "The 2017 Chardonnay Sanford and Benedict Vineyard has a youthfully shy nose, slowly opening to red apples, ripe white stone fruits, lemon cream and lime peel with notes of pastry and petrichor. The palate is light to medium-bodied, saline and precise, with tangy acidity and a pleasant touch of texture on the long, mineral-driven finish."
- Item #: i_260280Bottle Size: 750mlStarted in 2010 by Rajat Parr (wine director for Michael Mina restaurants) and Sashi Moorman (winemaker for Stolpman), Sandhi focus on crafting wine from select vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills area of Santa Barbara County. It is because of their focus for balance that these three are so determined to find vineyard sites from the Santa Rita Hills that are old-vine, have cold temperatures and windy exposures. They want wines with vibrancy, freshness and energy, so they prefer neutral barrel and concrete vessel, employing a conservative amount of new French oak, and all wines are wild-yeast fermented. All Chardonnays go through malo-lactic with the lees not stirred.
The vines' 47th vintage and Sandhi's 10th vintage. With each year there is a renewed appreciation and reverence for this pioneering, north-facing site, first planted in 1971. Without Sanford and Benedict, there may not be a Sandhi. The silex and clay over limestone soils imbue these wines with character and depth.
ANTONIO GALLONI 95 POINTS - "The 2018 Chardonnay Sanford and Benedict is such a wonderfully complete wine that expresses all of the pedigree of this historic Sta. Rita Hills site. Sweet, perfumed aromatics and radiant fruit envelop the senses. Lemon confit, marzipan and white flowers are some of the many aromas and flavors that open in the glass. The S-and-B is the most forthcoming of the Sandhi Chardonnays. I loved it."
- Item #: i_260260Bottle Size: 750mlThis is a special vintage as it marks the first time all of the grapes that went into this wine were grown on their own Domaine de la Cote estate. Wine is made in the vineyard and it is noticeable to us what a big step-up this vintage is in terms of complexity, ageability, and nuance because they controlled the farming.
This wine leads with a faint nose of reduction and flinty minerality. Rich notes of custard and lees mix with smoky notes of crushed rock and ocean spray. The tension on the palate offers a lively wine with textural richness that will age well for decades.
- Item #: i_257650Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 90Jeb Dunnuck: 90JEB DUNNUCK 90 POINTS - "Starting with the 2017 Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills Estate, it comes from the Sanford and 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."
ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE 90 POINTS - "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. 8,971 cases produced."
- Item #: i_295770Bottle Size: 750mlVinous Media: 92Zotovich Cellars is a family owned and operated boutique winery located in coastal Lompoc, California. Winemaker, Ryan Zotovich is coming most recently from Sea Smoke where he began working with Kris Curran. Prior to working at Sea Smoke, Ryan was the assistant winemaker at Palmina. With Ryan’s help, Zotovich Cellars is proud to offer small, closely monitored lots of estate wine. 100% of the grapes crushed into Zotovich wine are grown on the 35 acre Zotovich estate vineyard located off of Route 246, between Melville and Foley wineries.
ANTONIO GALLONI 92 POINTS - "The 2017 Chardonnay is creamy, open-knit and wonderfully inviting. Light tropical notes, orchard fruit, spice and a kiss of French oak all meld together in a sensual, delicious Chardonnay that will drink well right out of the gate."
- Item #: i_295760Bottle Size: 750mlThe introduction to the Zotovich trinity of Chardonnay exemplifies true flavors of the Sta Rita Hills. From an initial blast of lemon/lime with a freshness of salty ocean air, the aromatics of this Chardonnay showcase the maritime influence which hallmarks our vineyard. The palate holds a combination of lemon curd and ginger snap complimented the salty/fruity duo of prosciutto and melon. This medium-bodied Chardonnay finishes with a riverstone-like minerality refreshing the palate, and was aged entirely in neutral oak barrels.