Santa Maria Valley

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It’s amazing what a profound effect vintage has on a wine from a particular vineyard, and I can’t think of a better example than the comparison between 2011 and 2012 Bien Nacido chardonnay. 2011 was marked by a particularly cool summer and fall and the weather in the spring was so awful that the vines set a stingy crop. The wine we made was so lean that we chose to leave it in barrel on the lees for several months longer than usual to imbue it with some added richness, and it still took another year in bottle before it began to show its stuff. I am absolutely delighted with the result—a cerebral, mineral-y wine that has many years of positive development ahead, but it couldn’t be more different than the wine we made in 2012 from the same vines. From spring onward, 2012 was warm and pleasant and the vines responded with a generous crop. The chardonnay we picked had plenty of acidity, the alcohol was modest and about the same as in 2011, yet the wine is so different. While the 2011 is taut and crunchy, the 2012 started out and has continued to be easy going, generous, and just plain delicious. Early on I had a difficult time taking it seriously but time has given it a certain gravitas, and yet it remains a joyous drink.

Blend: 100% Chardonnay | Alc: 13.5% | Vinification: 100% Neutral French Oak | Barrel Aging: 10 Months | Total Production: 555 cases

Press Reviews

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

Rich and textured, the 2012 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard offers up an array of apple skin, cream, brioche, licorice and spice to go with a medium-bodied, rich and nicely textured feel on the palate. It too has racy acidity that comes through on the finish, yet I love the richness and depth through the mid-palate, as well as the length on the finish. Give it another year in the cellar, and enjoy bottles through 2019. – 92 Points

Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar

Bright yellow. Sexy, highly perfumed aromas of candied citrus fruits, nectarine and honeysuckle, with subtle iodine and mineral flourishes building with air. Juicy, penetrating and pure on the palate, offering energetic tangerine, pear and buttered toast flavors and a strong undercurrent of dusty minerals. Finishes racy and extremely long, with resonating mineral and floral qualities. –
93 Points

Antonio Galloni’s Vinous

The 2012 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard is rich and almost exotic in the glass. Almond paste, apricot, honeysuckle, tangerine and spice notes meld together in a textured, yet mid-weight Chardonnay built for near-term drinking. Today, the 2012 is quite forward and tropical, almost surprisingly so for an Ojai Chardonnay.