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Ken Brown Nielson Vineyard Chardonnay 2008

Chardonnay from Santa Maria Valley, Central Coast, California
  • WE90
13.6% ABV
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13.6% ABV

Winemaker Notes

This Chardonnay is rich and beautifully balanced with fresh aromas of crisp apple, pear and lemon zest accented by hints of minerality and spice. These components will gradually evolve into aromas of honey, pear and hazelnut as the wine develops. Flavors of Fuji apple, cinnamon stick and vanilla are supported by a silky elegance and natural acidity that carry through to a seamless finish.

Critical Acclaim

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WE 90
Wine Enthusiast
Produced from this famous cool-climate vineyard, the wine is zesty in acidity and dry, but enormously rich and impressive in pineapple and pear flavors, with a distinct minerality that makes it feel drier and earthier. It's a strong wine, but subtle. Drink now, but not too cold.
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Ken Brown

Ken Brown

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Ken Brown, Santa Maria Valley, Central Coast, California
2008 Nielson Vineyard Chardonnay
Our Focus at Ken Brown Wines is on very small lots of Pinot Noir from the finest vineyards of Sta. Rita Hills. The wines are produced at our winery in Buellton at the gateway to the Sta. Rita Hills appellation, and most lots consist of 250 cases or less. Total annual production is only about 2,000 cases. I work with growers, many of whom I've known for years, to hand select vineyard blocks for our program. Some of the remarkable vineyards we work with include Cargasacchi, Clos Pepe, Rio Vista and Sanford & Benedict. We also produce limited bottlings of Chardonnay and Syrah. My wife, Deborah, and I make up the staff of Ken Brown Wines, and we enjoy the close relationships we have with our wines and our customers.

Most of my career has been spent pursuing the elusive traits that make great Pinot Noir. From my early days at Zaca Mesa Winery to my 20-year tenure at Byron Vineyard to our small family operation at Ken Brown Wines, I have continued to experiment with clones, rootstocks, soils and winemaking techniques, exploring the tremendous potential for Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara County.

Santa Maria Valley

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A lesser-known but elite AVA within the larger Santa Barbara district, the Santa Maria Valley AVA runs precisely east to west starting near the coast, allowing Pacific Ocean air to funnel through and cool the vineyards. This allows grapes to ripen evenly and achieve their full potential by harvest time. Combined with minimal rainfall, consistent warm sunshine, and well-drained soils, this creates 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 proven quite successful in the region as well. Many vineyards here are owned by growers who sell their grapes to wineries, so it is common to see the same vineyard name on bottle from different wineries. Bien Nacido is perhaps the best-known and most prestigious.

Chardonnay

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One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made. In Burgundy, Chardonnay produces some of the finest white wines in the world, typically tending towards minimal intervention in the winery and at its best resulting in remarkable longevity. This grape is popular throughout the world, but perhaps its second most important home is in California, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia, South America, South Africa, and New Zealand are also significant producers of Chardonnay.

In the Glass

When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay’s flavors tend towards grapefruit, green apple, minerals, and white stone fruit, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of fig, melon, and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut, and spice (as well as texture), while malolactic fermentation can impart soft, buttery acidity.

Perfect Pairings

Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with simple seafood, light chicken dishes, and salads. Richer Chardonnays marry well with cream or oil-based sauces.

Sommelier Secret

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. These Old-World style wines have been dubbed the “New California Chardonnays,” and anyone who claims they do not like Chardonnay should give them a try.

WWH121656_2008 Item# 109630

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