- 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_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_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_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.