Bien Nacido Estate Chardonnay 2018
Bien Nacido Estate Chardonnay always carries a more tropical tone of fresh pineapple, bright acidity and a notable spice from our limited use of oak.
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Energetic aromas of lemon peel, crushed chalk, shiso leaf, crushed oyster shells and light mint show on the sizzling nose of this bottling. The palate is fascinatingly mineral-driven, offering wet rocks and more seashells, but also waves of tangerine cream and grapefruit peel. Drink through 2038.
The steely, high-toned citrus entry of this whole cluster–pressed Chardonnay, aged sur lie for 16 months in (20% new) French oak, is exciting. White flowers shine— lemon blossom, chamomile, jasmine—in combination with notes of Asian pear and lemon oil. With precision and searing acidity, it will hold up to spicy, pungent dishes.
Steely, high-toned citrus is an exciting entry for this whole cluster–pressed Chardonnay. Aged sur lie for 16 months in (20% new) French oak, the wine shines with white flowers: lemon blossom, chamomile, and a hint of jasmine. Precision and searing acidity define its character, along with Asian pear and lemon oil. It will hold up well against spicy and other powerfully flavored dishes.
The medium gold 2018 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Estate Santa Maria Valley offers a classy, Burgundian bouquet of spiced orchard fruits, white flowers, toasted hazelnuts, and honeysuckle. This carries to a medium-bodied, elegant Chardonnay with plenty of sweet fruit, a supple, elegant texture, and a great finish.
This wine feels blunt at first pass, with a lactic presence and toffee’d oak notes. But it feels bright and weightless after a day open, the caramel and lemon-lime flavors working into a layered weave with crisp pear and citrus, and a tart, mouthwatering finish.
In 1969, brothers Bob & Steve Miller, the fourth generation of a Central Coast California farming family, found a piece of land they instantly knew had vineyard potential. Formerly used for grazing, it was part of one of the earliest Spanish land grants. However, the shale soil and unique climate from the transverse mountain range provided a lens into its potential.
The vineyard was planted in 1973. Bob and Steve called it Bien Nacido, meaning “well born” in Spanish, because of the passion and commitment they shared in bringing it to life.
All the wines are naturally fermented, with no sulfur additions until after malolactic has completed. The wines are never filtered or fined, and only the selections which represent the best expressions make it into the bottles.
The original adobe on the property remains as one of the few privately maintained adobes in California.
A lesser-known but elite AVA within the larger Santa Barbara district, the Santa Maria Valley AVA runs precisely west to east starting near the coast. The valley funnels cool, Pacific Ocean air to the vineyards more inland, allowing grapes a longer hang time to ripen evenly and achieve their full potential by harvest time. Combined with minimal rainfall, consistent warm sunshine, and well-drained soils, it is an ideal environment for grape growing.
Many of the wineries here are small and highly respected, having established a reputation in the 1970s and 80s for producing excellent Central Coast wines like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. More recently, Syrah has also proven quite successful in the region. Many vineyards are owned by growers who sell their grapes to other wineries, so it is common to see the same vineyard name on bottlings from different wineries. Bien Nacido Vineyard is perhaps the best-known and most prestigious.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.