Santa Maria Valley
I would say this is a traditional California chardonnay, but everyone who tasted it on my recent trip to Portland and Seattle thought it was emphatically unlike any California chardonnay they had ever tasted. It was well received, because it seems people are tired of the flat, over-oaked examples they often taste.
I think the fruity aroma from Bien Nacido is not atypical for California chardonnay, but beyond that aspect I will admit it is quite different. Since 2000 we haven’t used new oak barrels, but have preferred older, more neutral ones that showcase the vineyards distinctiveness, and every year we restrict the crop which helps emphasize its refreshing texture. We also pick the fruit much earlier than most winemakers do these days, because we like the herb tinged aromas and zippy acidity that are lost when grapes are harvested too ripe.
I know I often say this, but this 2006 Bien Nacido Chardonnay ranks as my favorite since we started making them in 1990.
Blend: 100% Chardonnay | Alcohol: 14.0% | Vinification: 100% Neutral French Oak | Barrel Aging: 12 Months | Total Production: 297 cases
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar
“Greenish gold. Pungent, perfumed bouquet evokes white peach, poached pear, Meyer lemon and smoky lees. Sappy orchard and pit fruit flavors show very good depth and are enlivened by tangy minerality. Becomes sweeter on the finish while retaining admirable clarity and cut. These vines were planted in 1973, according to Adam Tolmach.” – JR 90 Points
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
“Another fresh, lively Chablis-like offering is the 2006 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard. Attractive white currants, quince, and earthy notes unfold gently to reveal a medium to full-bodied wine with no real evidence of wood, but excellent fruit, definition, and flavor penetration.” -RP 90 Points