At our very last tasting of the year, we blind-tasted 10 small batch Chardonnays, and a big surprise came out of the ballot box. Our group of 17 tasted the following wines:
- Aubert “Hudson” 99 Points
- Ramey “Hyde” 97 Points
- Hyde de Villaine 96 Points
- Tor Cuvee Torchiana Beresin 95 Points
- Brewer-Clifton 3D 95 Points
- Chev Russian RIver Valley 97 Points
- Cobb “Doc’s Ranch JoAnn’s Block” 96 Points
- Nid Tisse “Hyde” 97 Points
- Littorai B.A. Thieriot Vineyard 96 Points
- Donnachadh “Estate” Santa Rita Hills 95 Points
Donnachadh “Estate” Santa Rita Hills 95 Points – 6 First, 5 Second, 2 Third place votes
Nid Tisse “Hyde” 97 Points – 5 First, 4 Second, 2 Third place votes
Chev Russian RIver Valley 97 Points – 1 First, 2 Second, 4 Second place votes
Aubert “Hudson” – 1 First, 2 Second, 3 Third place votes
Littoria “B.A. Thieriote: – 1 First, 1 Second, 2 Third place votes
The name Donnachadh is a 4th-century Gaelic name ancestral to modern Scottish Clan Duncan. The clan motto, disce pati, means “learn to endure.” Pronunciation is DON-nuh-kuh.
Donnachadh is a family-owned and organically farmed vineyard located in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA of Santa Barbara County. The climate of the Santa Rita Hills is dominated by the Pacific Ocean, which lies about 9 miles from the vineyard. Morning fog cools the grapes and consistent afternoon ocean breezes keep heat from building up over the course of the day. The vineyard consists of two main parts: the hillside blocks, and the riverside blocks. The riverside blocks sit alongside the Santa Ynez River. They are more sheltered from the wind than the hillside blocks and the soil is a delicate and well-drained sandy loam that sits on top of deep layers of gravel river deposits. The hillside blocks are more exposed to ocean winds. The soil there is derived from marine shale deposits and features more clay, rocks, and cobbles than the riverside blocks. Overall, the hillside environment is quite challenging for the vines, limiting yields and producing grapes of exceptional character.
Drew and Laurie Duncan searched for almost a decade for the perfect cool climate site to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir before finally discovering Donnachadh Vineyard (pronounced DON-nuh-kuh). Organically farmed in the heart of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, the property was planted to vine by the Duncans in 2013. Santa Barbara Winemaker Ernst Storm is at the helm for winemaking at Donnachadh. Having hailed from the Western Cape of South Africa, his experience making balanced wines from cool climate grapes has served him well in the Sta. Rita Hills. Ernst believes that the diverse soils and microclimates within Santa Barbara County make it a region with endless potential.
Donnachadh 2019 Chardonnay “Estate” Santa Rita Hills
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Winery Notes: “The core of the Estate Chardonnay comes from the highest part of our vineyard, Block 1. This block has shallow, rocky soil and is exposed to powerful ocean winds, yielding grapes that are slow to ripen, concentrated, and focused. The acid and minerality from this block provide the backbone of the wine. Wente clones and clone 76 grapes from our riverside blocks round out the wine. Mineral-driven, delicate and crystalline. Lemon zest, brioche, and struck flint on the nose. Mouthwatering acidity with oyster-shell minerality on the palate of Meyer lemon and pear with a drop of candied lemon and sea salt on the finish. The Estate Chardonnay really captures in the glass the tension we see between cool air and warm sun. Whole cluster pressed, fermented in barrel, with 20% new French oak, and bottled after 11 months in barrel, and a further 5 months in stainless steel on the lees”
WS 95 Points: “Enticing aromas of buttercream, cake batter, and macadamia nut are clean and light on the nose of this bottling. The palate grabs hold with a tart orange-rind note, then opens toward white-peach and grapefruit juice flavors. There’s just the slightest hint of nutty opulence.”
Also, check out Donnachadh 2018 Pinot Noir Estate Santa Rita Hills 95 Points
(OK to mix & match for FREE SHIPPING)
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