2018 Alfaro Family Vineyards, Chardonnay, Lindsay Paige Vineyard, Estate Grown, Santa Cruz Mountains.
This wine continues to be one of the greatest values in California Chardonnay, coming from Richard Alfaro’s flagship Lindsay Paige Estate Vineyard, it delivers a rich and rounded full bodied mouth feel and excellent crisp detailing with lively freshness, mineral notes and a long creamy finish. The 2018 is hitting its stride right now, all coming together and flowing seamlessly across the palate with white flowers, lemony brioche and apple, pear and peach fruits as well as perfectly judged oak, which gives this wine an elegant and opulent frame with hints of toast and butterscotch/vanilla. This vintage is pure and is exceptional with food, especially with roast herb crusted chicken, which I enjoyed it with, though it would be even better with lobster, crab cakes and or soft double cream cheeses. Alfaro has a well earned reputation has a great grower of Chardonnay, though not enough credit is given to his own lineup and these Chardonnays remain somewhat under the radar, in particular his own Trout Gulch version, his special Mary Katherine Chard, named for his wife, which includes his Kongsgaard clone parcels and this Lindsay Paige, named for his daughter. With air this pale golden/straw hued Chardonnay adds more complexity with hints of wet stones, saline and honeysuckle coming through and the fruit density impresses, while everything stays briskly focused. Just 200 Cases of the Lindsay Paige Chard was produced, with most of it going to Alfaro’s mailing listened wine club, both of which I recommend joining to get these awesome wines.

In recent years, Alfaro has had his son Ryan, a confident winemaker in his own right, getting more and more involved in the family business and bringing a renewed energy and passion to the estate. Ryan, who studied in New Zealand and spent a year being mentored by California legend Adam Tolmach of The Ojai Vineyard, has started his own label, Farm Cottage Wines that has created a big buzz with the first release of a Trout Gulch Pinot Noir, a wine I absolutely love and reviewed here a few months ago. The Alfaro’s farm with incredible care and work in sustainable and mostly organic fashion with a result of some fantastic grapes that are in high demand, in particular their Trout Gulch Chardonnay that goes to some of California’s most exciting winemakers, like John Raytek at Ceritas, Duncan Meyers at Arnot-Roberts as well as Jamie Kutch, all of which make thrilling examples from this awesome site. The Lindsay Paige Chardonnay was classically done with hand-crafted care with barrel fermentation and aging, with this cool climate wine seeing full malo-lactic conversion and fine lees contact in French oak barrels, 25% new, for close to 10 months. The 2018 vintage, a long cool growing season with wonderful concentration and plenty of natural acidity really pushed this Lindsay Paige Chardonnay to the next level and gives this wine a real presence and structure, it should drink well for many years to come, though it is so good now it mostly likely won’t be around for those that like their Chardonnay with some age. Luckily, I am almost certain the just released 2019 will be just as delicious if not more so! Don’t forget to check out Richard’s beautiful Pinots, which are smoothly elegant and fruit forward, and the racy and dry Alfaro Gruner Veltliner.
($30 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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