2017 Brewer-Clifton, Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills.
Few wines offer the bang for the buck than these Brewer-Clifton Sta Rita Hills series, especially the Chardonnay and this 2017 is in a great place right now, I’m glad I forgot about it and gave it an extra few years of age, it has a nice level of maturity and remains crisply fresh and great with food. The full bodied palate has a pleasing texture, but there is plenty of energy and the natural acidity is lively, adding balance and highlighting the core of apple, lemon curd, golden fig, kiwi, peach and pear fruits along with white flowers, clove spicy notes, wet stones, subtle oak shadings and mineral tones. This vintage, warm and ripe is classic and reminds me of the best of California Chardonnays with elements that bring Hanzell and or Mount Eden to mind, especially after it opens up. This pale gold Chardonnay adds some saline, leesy hazelnut, a touch of tropical essences and clarified cream notes with air and has a regal presence, lingering elegantly on and on. Brewer-Clifton has some amazing vineyards to work with including their own 3-D, Machado and Hapgood sites which are sustainably and meticulously farmed for top quality fruit. Greg Brewer is truly gifted as a winemaker and always crafts wines of purity and transparency, this is especially true in his Chards, and to this day his 2000 vintage Mount Carmel Chard remains one of the all time great California Chardonnays I’ve ever tried.
One of the wineries that started the Sta. Rita Hills craze in the mid nineties Brewer-Clifton, originally the partnership of Steve Clifton, now making his own La Voix wines, and Greg Brewer, one of the most influential winemakers of his generation, who still crafts these wines, but under the ownership of Jackson Family Wines, who have allowed Brewer to take the vineyards and wines to the next level, as well as encouraged Greg to continue with his own personal projects Diatom and Ex Post Facto. Brewer-Clifton, founded in 1996, started the Sta. Rita Hills Series wines back in 2007, and these wines are their gateway wines, made from the top lots of each of their Cru vineyard sites! They are a great value and are not seconds or lesser barrels, these wines are everything the single vineyard wines are, but just blended to make the best wine possible, as this 2017 SRH shows. The ocean plays a big role in the wines, with vines set in sandy oceanic soils and seeing cool marine breezes which lengthens the growing season, while taming in natural alcohols, and Brewer uses most neutral barrels to clearly express the terroir and the region’s full array of rich flavors. While a long time fan of Greg’s wines, I am usually focusing my attention on his Pinots, but this delicious wine really makes the case for getting more of the BC Chardonnays!
($40 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive