Byron Nielson Vineyard Chardonnay 2012
Chardonnay from Santa Maria Valley, California
All of the grapes for this Chardonnay come from our historic, estate-owned Nielson Vineyard — the first commercial vineyard in Santa Barbara County, planted in 1964. The site's sandy loam, benchland soils help to reduce plant vigor, resulting in low yields, small berries and intense flavors. Planted in high density spacing to premium Dijon clones, average yields are less than three tons per acre. The fruit for the Nielson blend is noted for its firm structure, vivid color and concentration. The flavor profile is very creamy and rich with hints of honey, citrus and mineral with a touch of oak.
Wine Enthusiast - "The aromas of this Chardonnay are zesty and fresh yet rich, with barrel smoke, caramelized pear and vanilla tones. The integration continues on the palate, with a bit of oak followed by apple, white peach, nectarine and lime zest. It’s flavorful and enjoyable now. "
The Wine Advocate - "More energetic, with better overall focus and definition, the 2012 Chardonnay Nielson offers impressive lychee nut, white flowers, mint and hints of brioche in its medium to full-bodied, layered and beautifully textured personality."
Connoisseurs' Guide - "This wine is noticeably forward in oak in the nose, and its fruit does take a moment in which to get going, but going is just what it does, and it shines brightly in the deep and impressively filled flavors of ripe apples and lemons. There are scattered glimmers of complexity that bode well for aging, and the wine's youthful, slightly phenolic, finishing edges will disappear once a couple of years have passed."
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Byron was founded in 1984 by winemaker Ken Brown. With years of experience as a winemaker in Santa Barbara County, Ken recognized the Santa Maria Valley's potential for great wines in the Burgundian style, and was the first winemaker to introduce Rhone-style grape varieties to the area. The first crush at Byron Vineyard & Winery produced 7,600 cases, and Byron soon gained national recognition for high quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
In 1990, the Robert Mondavi family purchased Byron, and Ken Brown became Winemaker and General Manager. He and Tim Mondavi, Robert's son, set about designing the new Byron Winery as an expression of their shared belief in natural farming, experimental viticulture and gentle grape handling. They wanted to eliminate pumping, which shears grape stems, skin and seeds, allows tannins and other harsh elements into the juice and can make wine bitter.
With the aid of noted architect R. Scott Johnson, who designed the Opus One winery in Napa Valley and San Francisco's Transamerica building, Ken designed a multi-level winery that replaces pumping with gravity flow, resulting in more complex, dynamic wines. Byron's vineyards were also expanded and replanted as Ken Brown experimented with trellising systems, new rootstocks and clones, row orientation, and planting density in his quest for the perfect grape. View all Byron Wines
About Santa Maria ValleyView a map of Santa Maria Valley wineries
Situated near the ocean in the larger Santa Barbara district, the Santa Maria Valley appellation runs east to west. Pacific Ocean air funnels in to cool the vineyards, allowing the grapes to evenly ripen and reach their full potential. This unique climate paired with the region's well-drained soils helps create some sought-after grapes.
Notable FactsPinot Noir and Chardonnay are the most planted varieties in the AVA, which covers over 7,000 acres of land. Syrah is gaining more ground as it consistantly produces outstanding wines. Many vineyards are owned by growers and sold to wineries, so seeing a vineyard name on multiple producer's bottles is common. One of the better known vineyards, Bien Nacido, is found on the labels of some of the most prestigious wines of the area.
About CaliforniaIt's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.