Santa Maria Valley
Solomon Hills is typically our most full and structured chardonnay—there’s a sense of grandness on the palate, and the 2015 is no exception. But don’t think fruity-thick—the Dijon clones at this site show off none of that more typical juicy tropical fruit. Instead, depending on the year, you find a creamy lemon curd or poached pear like density that’s always girdled up with minerals and piney, floral brightness. It’s generous, but never saturating.
Our 2015 chardonnay comes from a warm, drought-affected vintage. We harvested about 3 weeks earlier than the 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. Solomon Hills chardonnay often reminds me a bit of the ones I used to make from Talley years back. Those wines have aged fabulously, some from the 90s still drink well, so I suspect this Solomon Hills has a long life ahead of it.
Blend: 100% Chardonnay | Alc: 13.0% | Vinification: Barrel fermented in French Oak, 10% New | Barrel Aging: 11 Months | Total Production 327 Cases
Solomon Hills Vineyard is the most coastal vineyard up in cool foggy Santa Maria Valley. It’s also the sister vineyard to Bien Nacido, so it too is farmed with same doting attention to detail. The site consists of a series of gently rolling hills of sand next to Highway 101, at the western edge of the appellation. Being so close to the ocean, Solomon Hills is exceptionally cool and foggy in a region where that is the norm (the Miller family also grows blueberries here, which might give you an idea of the climate).
The marginal weather and the extremely poor sandy soils make low yields and intense fruit the name of the game. When the vines are flowering in spring the weather is often moist and cool, which makes it difficult to get good fruit set. And being planted on nutrient-poor sand means the berries and clusters stay quite small, which is great for making wines with vibrancy and character.
With these influences only Dijon clones make sense for the site, as these clones are better equipped to ripen in chilly vineyards where “California clones” like those at Bien Nacido might give under-stuffed and overly nervy wines. The Dijon fruit benefits from the cool, gradual ripening here. Our wines that come out of this vineyard are always radiant and bold offerings with lots to say, but also elegant and precisely balanced—just a joy to drink!
“Another beauty is the 2015 Chardonnay Solomon Hills, and it shows more white flowers, lemon rind and mineral notes in a very fresh, racy, even tart, style. Still, the purity of fruit leads, and it has a great texture. Give this beauty a few years.”- JD 92+ points
Antonio Galloni’s Vinous
“The 2015 Chardonnay Solomon Hills is the most intriguing of the three 2015 Chardonnays from Ojai because it expresses the natural intensity of the year while retaining plenty of energy and aromatic freshness. There is a lovely sense of oiliness and texture to the 2015, but no excess weight at all.” – AG 92 points