Amor Fati Chardonnay 2015
Amor Fati means "love of fate" and fate has brought these wines. Small productions from estate-driven fruit growing from a single vineyard in coastal Santa Maria Valley, the wines have a strong cult following due to the elusive and intriguing wine styles and alluring labels based on William Blake’s sketches. Culty, illusive and beguiling, with extended hang time in the vineyard, these wines explode from the glass. Aggressive and engulfing, yet showcasing restrained balance on the palate; tannins are lush, round, unprecedented. Amor Fati translates in Latin to “the love of one’s fate.” In Santa Maria, harvest dates often push into late November and grape ripening is solely at the discretion of nature. Each year they wait and have faith. Labels are sketch renditions of William Blake’s 1793 work “The Marriage Of Heaven and Hell.” Look deep into the symmetrical label to find a naked woman embracing the hand of a mermaid and a small child, all while riding a pink dragon. Drink more to see more.
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 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.