Bien Nacido Estate Chardonnay 2020
Classically Bien Nacido, which is to say sun kissed with a cool ocean breeze. Perfectly ripened banana with a hint of fresh-baked rolls. A sweet and savory note comes through with Marcona almonds and sea salt. There is a richness and viscosity which ties it all together.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Sourced from the oldest own-rooted plantings at Bien Nacido, this vintage is markedly dynamic, with a zing of sea salt and lemon zest. Bright notes of tarragon and honeyed pineapple meld with taut acidity.
The 2020 Chardonnay Estate comes from the own-rooted old vines planted in 1973. It has pretty scents of golden apples, burnt lemon peel, dried tarragon and lots of spicy accents with a gentle creaminess in the background. Medium-bodied and satiny, the palate boasts concentrated citrus underpinned by sparks of mineral character and bright acidity, finishing long and mineral driven. Best after 2022.
Anthony Avila was second in command for five years before he took over winemaking at the Solomon Hills and Bien Nacido estates in late 2019. Now, he’s taking the Miller family wines in a new direction. This chardonnay owes its elegance and acid structure to the cool windswept coastal plain east of the breakers. It’s rich in its lemony scent overlain by nutty lees, in the smoky, savory aromas and warm apple flavors conveyed with a thrilling tension.
Remarkably intense and vivid, with white peach, Honeycrisp apple, tangerine and savory notes of tahini and crunchy sea salt, plus aromas of fresh-clipped herbs and green tea that linger on the long, expressive and sleek finish.
Tightly woven lemon peel, crushed stone and light nectarine aromas come through on the nose of this bottling. There’s a firm grip to the sip, where a sneaky acidity pops through the flavors of chalk, lemon and pineapple rind.
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.