Hartford Court Seascape Vineyard Chardonnay 2016
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
In the same league as the 2015 and flirting with perfection, the 2016 Chardonnay Seascape Vineyard comes from a ridgetop vineyard located at 1,150 feet above sea-level, just west of the town of Occidental. It was fermented and aged 16 months in 30% new French oak. Salty sea breeze, lemon curd, white flowers, beautiful minerality, and hints of toasted bread all flow to a medium to full-bodied, rich, powerful Chardonnay that has awesome purity, building density and depth on the palate, and bright acidity that carries through the finish. It's straight-up awesome.
Making delicious wines of high personality is directly related to the difficult locations of the Hartford family's vineyard sources, the limited production of their bottlings and the varietals they use. "Character through adversity" is an expression that the Hartford family believes to apply to both people and grapevines, and they feel that surviving adversity builds character, and personality, in both.
The Hartford Family makes wines under two marks, one of which is Hartford Court. Hartford Court bottlings are small lots of high-personality single vineyard Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays that express the distinctive qualities inherent in each vineyard's terroir - the interplay of soil, slope, exposure and climate. The fruit is sourced from the Russian River Valley, Green Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations.
A vast appellation covering Sonoma County’s Pacific coastline, the Sonoma Coast AVA runs all the way from the Mendocino County border, south to the San Pablo Bay. The region can actually be divided into two sections—the actual coastal vineyards, marked by marine soils, cool temperatures and saline ocean breezes—and the warmer, drier vineyards further inland, which are still heavily influenced by the Pacific but not quite with same intensity.
Contained within the appellation are the much smaller Fort Ross-Seaview and Petaluma Gap AVAs.
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 practically every country in the wine producing world grows it, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. As far as cellar potential, white Burgundy rivals the world’s other age-worthy whites like Riesling or botrytized Semillon. California is Chardonnay’s second most important home, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia and South America are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay flavors tend towards grapefruit, lemon zest, green apple, celery leaf and wet flint, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of melon, peach and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut and spice, while malolactic fermentation imparts a soft and creamy texture.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with flaky white fish with herbs, scallops, turkey breast and soft cheeses. Richer Chardonnays marry well with lobster, crab, salmon, roasted chicken and creamy sauces.
Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. In Burgundy, the subregion of Chablis, while typically employing the use of older oak barrels, produces a similar bright and acid-driven style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy its lighter style.