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Ojai Solomon Hills Chardonnay 2016

Chardonnay from Santa Maria Valley, Central Coast, California
    13% ABV
    • RP94
    • RP92
    • WE91
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    13% ABV

    Winemaker Notes

    Ojai's 2016 Chardonnay comes from a warm, drought-affected vintage. They harvested about three weeks earlier than norm, but because of the mild winter the vines budded early too, so the growing season remained long. The relative warmth of the year ensured a core of succulence and texture that is sure to come out with some aging, but at the moment it's most defined by its big frame of crunchy minerality. The aromas currently dominating are stony and fresh; somewhat like it might smell standing next to a waterfall. This Solomon Hills has a long life ahead of it.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Ojai
    Ojai, Santa Maria Valley, Central Coast, California
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    Adam Tolmach went to UC Davis and studied viticulture and enology, and after graduating in 1976 he settled down on the property his grandfather bought in the Ojai Valley in 1933 to farm sweet corn and melons, selling them at a roadside stand. After two years of this satisfying, yet difficult and nearly profitless work he sought employment in his field of study.

    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.

    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 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.

    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.

    OJAOJAI16CHSH_2016 Item# 343887