Santa Maria Valley
We made four chardonnays from Solomon Hills in 2006 just to confuse you–or perhaps us! This is one of two that came about because of extraordinary conditions in the vineyard.
In 2006 I was astonished to see botrytis mold growing perfectly on the Solomon Hills Chardonnay–a rare occurrence. Botrytis is the agent that allows French and German winemakers to make the most celebrated dessert wines in the world. Besides concentrating flavors and sugars naturally in grapes, it contributes a wonderful honeyed and apricot aroma and flavor to wines. While in this case I was sure the botrytis was a good thing, to be extra careful, the effected clusters were picked ahead of the main harvest of chardonnay, and fermented separately. The result was so dramatic that we bottled it as a special lot. Although completely dry, this wine has an incredible concentration of flavor and richness–and it has interesting honeyed complexities that only botrytis can give. Full throttled, because the botrytis concentrated the flavors, yet light on its feet because the acidity is concentrated as well. We were so excited by this wine we went back to the vineyard manager at Solomon Hills and asked him if there were other buyers that did not want their botrytis effected grapes so we could make a sweet dessert wine.
The Solomon Hills Chardonnay was whole cluster pressed (30% containing botrytis), fermented in neutral French oak barrels and aged on its original lees for 14 months. The wine was handled with a lot of care and stirred regularly to help the completion of its malo-lactic fermentation.
Blend: 100% Chardonnay | Alcohol: 14.0% | Vinification: 30% New French Oak | Barrel Aging: 14 Months | Total Production: 133 cases
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
“Better is the 2006 Chardonnay Solomon Hills Special Bottling. This reminded me of one of the top vintages of Domaine de Bongran’s superb Macon Clesse. Aged completely in neutral wood, the wine displays zesty acidity as well as beautiful white peach, poached pear, and lemon zest notes in a medium to full-bodied, beautifully textured, pure style.” -RP 90 Points