Qupe Bien Nacido Block 11 Chardonnay Reserve (375ML) 2013
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
In contrast to the Old World, Qupé focuses on cool climate expressions of Rhône varietals due to a distinctive geographical feature that sets them apart from most other regions of California, as all vineyards are all located in East-West valleys (vs North-South) which function as open windows to the cool Pacific Ocean. The benefit to the vineyards of being along the coast and running East-West is that the cold, moist air gets pulled in and creates a layer of morning cloud cover over the vines which reduces temperatures and sun exposure on the grapes. This is why cool climate varieties excel in the coastal regions of the Central Coast and allows Qupé to focus on cool climate expressions of Rhone varietals. East-West valleys on the Central Coast that Qupé sources from include Edna Valley, Arroyo Grande Valley, Santa Maria Valley, Los Alamos Valley and Santa Rita Hills/Santa Ynez Valley.
The name "qupé" was chosen to honor the Chumash, the indigenous people of the Golden State's Central Coast and Channel Islands. In Chumash, "qupé" refers to the poppy, a flowering plant traditionally used for food and medicine. In 1903 the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) was officially designated the state flower, and every spring masses of the bright orange blossoms still blanket local hills and back country.
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 Central Coast wines like 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.