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Longoria Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills 2000
The grapes were harvested on October 7 at 24.7 Brix. The juice was settled for 36 hours, then transferred to another tank for the start of fermentation. Just a few days after the start of fermentation the juice was transferred to French oak barrels for the completion of fermentation. The wine was aged "sur lies" for eleven months in French oak barrels, one third of which were new barrels. This vintage underwent only about 50% malo-lactic conversion.
The wine has a very attractive, spicy array of aromas, with a hint of the oak vanillin. On the palate the wine is rich, full bodied, yet has a great acid balance, which after three years of working with this vineyard, I feel is unique to this vineyard. This may be the best-balanced Chardonnay we produced in 2000.
This is definitely a wine that deserves to be bottle aged as long as one might age a typical white Burgundy.
In 1985, The Gainey Vineyard lured Rick away from J. Carey Cellars to produce wines for their ambitious and exciting new winery project. During his twelve years as winemaker, Rick's winemaking skills established Gainey as one of the top quality wineries in the area. He also continued to produce very small quantities of Longoria wines, just enough to keep the label active.
In December, 1997, twenty-three years after his first job at a winery and fifteen years after starting his own business, Rick gave up steady employment to devote his full energies to his winery business. On May 1, 1998, Rick and Diana opened the doors to their own tasting room in one of the oldest buildings in downtown Los Olivos. In December 1999, Rick moved his winery operation into his own 5,400 sq. foot building in Lompoc.
A superior source of California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Sta. Rita Hills is the coolest, westernmost sub-region of the larger Santa Ynez Valley appellation within Santa Barbara County. This relatively new AVA is unquestionably one to keep an eye on.
The climate of Sta. Rita Hills is a natural match for Chardonnay and Pinot noir, thanks to the crisp ocean breezes and well-drained, limestone-rich calcareous soil. Here, grapes ripen just enough, while retaining brisk acidity and harmonious balance.
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.