Ojai Bien Nacido Chardonnay 2017
Blonde aromas of Meyer lemons and nectarine predominate, touched up with classic Bien Nacido steaks of bee pollen, iodine and minerals. The palate echos the same in a creamy, mouth-coating way that closes with freshness.
Pairs well with richer shellfish.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Leading off the Chardonnays, the 2017 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard comes from one of the top vineyards in Santa Barbara County and it offers classic, masculine, mineral-driven notes as well as pretty apple blossom, white flowers, and salty sea breeze characteristics. Beautifully balanced, medium-bodied, and seamless, drink it over the coming decade.
The 2017 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard has a gregarious nose of warm yellow peaches, crushed almonds, acacia and honey plus notions of sweet hay, Meyer lemon and crushed stone. The medium-bodied palate offers intense stone fruit and savory layers, with tangy acidity to oppose and a long, nuanced finish. 890 cases produced.
Adam had planted a vineyard in Ojai to Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc and had begun producing wine from that fruit in 1983. When the collaboration with Clendenen ended he concentrated all his attention on The Ojai Vineyard to further explore the infinite details of his craft.
Looking back over the last 25 years, one can see the development of The Ojai Vineyard came in three distinct phases. In the beginning it was lots of fun discovering the budding Santa Barbara County, experimenting with new plantings, new areas, and a wide selection of varietals; Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and other Rhone varietals. Back in 1983 the vines were grown without much care in what was called a California sprawl. It took years to get growers to move towards progressive practices like drip irrigation and vertical trellising to improved wine grape quality.
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 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.