2022 I. Brand & Family Winery, Chardonnay, Fox Creek Vineyard, Carmel Valley AVA, Monterey County.
Chardonnay has had a mixed past here in the deep end of Carmel Valley, but Ian Brand’s new Fox Creek Chardonnay is an outstanding effort with loads of stony and mineral character and vitality, making it a very unique, slightly austere version of this grape with bright lemon, apple, pear and subtle pineapple fruits and nicely judge oak use, saline infused rock, clove spice, leesy texture, delicate florals and good vigorous acidity. Tasted twice now, this I. Brand & Family Winery Fox Creek Chardonnay has really added some depth and density now and is drinking fabulously well, especially for those that are fans of Chardonnay with restraint and old world inspiration. As it opens up, this pale gold wine certainly gains in all areas, but stays energetic, bright and poised, making it a terrific food wine with a subtle creamy element and purity, enjoy it with local catch sea foods and or poultry dishes.

The Fox Creek Vineyard, owned by a famous App maker who doesn’t want any publicity, is located in Carmel Valley’s deep end about five miles east of the Carmel Valley Village, and part of the Fox Creek organic farm. Winemaker Ian Brand explains, that he can’t say much more about it because he had to sign an NDA before he could even enter the property, and buy the grapes! This small high site set on ancient marine sediment and granitic loam also supplies the famed Arnot-Roberts with Pinot Noir grapes, which is getting a lot of attention by their fans. The winemaking for Ian’s 2022 Fox Creek Carmel Valley Chardonnay was a simple, mostly hands off approach to allow for terroir distinction and transparency, he employed a whole cluster pressing of the grapes and it was all barrel fermented in French oak with, what Ian calls, endemic yeasts, and then it was aged 9 months on lees, but without batonage (stirring). This vintage saw just about 20% new wood and come out with 12.9% natural alcohol, which adds to the balanced feel in this outstanding wine, which is an under the radar offering in Brand’s lineup.
($36 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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