Birichino Jurassic Park Vineyard Old Vines Chenin Blanc 2017
The 2017 sports a perfume of orange blossom honey, apple butter, brimstone, and some peculiar precursor of lilac which activates not merely the olfactory system, but also the limbic system, autonomic nervous system, and other systems located in more distant sectors. Soil and micro-climate humidity during the 2017 growing season remained quite high through the growing season due to the enormous rains from the previous winter, contributing to the development of modest yet meaningful early botrytis. We last encountered these conditions in 2013 and produced a wine similar to that vintage - just off dry in the style known by the French as sec tendre - dry, yet tender. And as with previous vintages, this wine fermented in stainless steel without inoculation, and was aged until the following Spring in 8 stainless and 2 neutral Hungarian oak barrels.
Unquestionably one of the most diverse grape varieties, Chenin Blanc can do it all. It shines in every style from bone dry to unctuously sweet, oaked or unoaked, still or sparkling and even as the base for fortified wines and spirits. Perhaps Chenin Blanc’s greatest asset is its ever-present acidity, maintained even under warm growing conditions. Somm Secret—Landing in South Africa in the mid 1800s, today the country has double the acreage of Chenin Blanc planted compared to France. There is also a new wave of dedicated producers committed to restoring old Chenin vines.
Ranging from cool and foggy in the west to warm and dry in the east, the Santa Ynez Valley is a climatically diverse growing area. The most expansive AVA within the larger Santa Barbara County region, Santa Ynez is also home to a wide variety of soil types and geographical features. The appellation is further divided into four distinct sub-AVAs—Sta. Rita Hills, Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos District and Happy Canyon—each with its own defining characteristics.
A wide selection of grapes is planted here—more than sixty different varieties, and counting. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir dominate in the chilly west, while Zinfandel, Rhône blends, and Bordeaux blends rule the arid east. Syrah is successful at both ends of the valley, with a lean and peppery, Old-World sensibility closer to the coast and lush berry fruit further inland.