In the late 1980's, sisters Nancy and Sandy Donnell teamed up with the Sangiacomo family to develop this striking vineyard in the western hills of the Carneros District. The soil here is clay-loam, but with a mix of gravel and basalt. The vineyard sits on a hillside that resembles a natural amphitheater, opening to the southeast and the cooling breezes of the San Francisco Bay. It's a rare spot -- one where the soil, the elevation and the climate are all ideal for Chardonnay grapes. Together they produce fruit of the highest possible quality under near-perfect conditions. The wine is amply aromatic, crisp and round just where it needs to be, and beautifully flavored. Just as Michael Pollan in Second Nature refers to a garden as the caretaker's 'autograph', we think of this bottling of Chardonnay as the ultimate representation of ourselves, and what we aspire to as vintners.
"The 2009 Chardonnay El Novillero Vineyard reminds me of some of the glory days of Louis Latour's Corton-Charlemagne. Smoky bacon fat, poached pear, honeysuckle, peach and earth all combine in a full-bodied, minerally, yet authoritatively flavored Chardonnay that is part California and seemingly part French. This beauty, from a cool-climate vineyard, is just that loaded. Drink it over the next 5-6 years. "
The Wine Advocate