2017 Diatom by Greg Brewer, Chardonnay Hilliard Bruce Vineyard -photo grapelive

2017 Diatom, Chardonnay, Hilliard Bruce Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills.
Greg Brewer’s Diatom 2017 Hilliard Bruce Vineyard is all Chardonnay clone 96, sourced from a steep, ultra cool climate north facing slope on the western border of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA that makes for an acid and mineral intense version that almost has Raveneau like presence in the glass, but with a touch more generosity on the palate, more perfumed with citrus blossom rather than hazel nut, impressive non the less. The severe ocean winds influence the land, Brewer notes, adding that the sand and gravel characterize the soil profile that transmits purply into this vibrantly expressive Chardonnay from one of California top winemakers and Chard masters, who’s best known for his efforts at his Brewer Clifton and his work at Melville Estate. I love all these 2017’s, but this Hilliard Bruce Vineyard shows a beautiful harmony between the bright minerality of site with the rounder mouthfeel characterized by this clone. Brewer’s approach to Diatom is to dig down to the purest form of Chardonnay he can, I like to think of it as a zen like focus that captures the grape in a vacuum, with the fermentations down at very low temperature in small stainless-steel tanks, or Innox, coupled with inhibited malo-lactic, so no cream or butter distractions, and short hose transit ensure precision and ultra sharp detail. This is wildly amusing and intellectually intriguing Chardonnay with ripe flavors, but with steely crispness, at 14.5% natural alcohol there is mouth feel and expansion on the vibrantly electric palate with fresh citrus, green melon and white peach notes along with wet stones, liquid mineral and tart herb, lemongrass, quince and hint grapefruit zest. The wine rounds out with warm and time in the glass revealing a touch of honeysuckle and lime. Ultra pale, clean almost devoid of color except for a faint greenish gold, the Diatom Hilliard Bruce Vineyard 2017 is an awesome if not super geeky Chardonnay that takes its style to the extreme, beware this is polar opposite to mainstream barrel aged Chard, and as I curious and adventurous wine professional I find it massively exciting and thrilling, though best with briny dishes, white fish, mussels, claims and especially oysters, drink over the 2 to 5 years.
($36 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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