2017 Diatom, Chardonnay “Katherine’s” Santa Maria Valley.
Another exploration into purity and place from Greg Brewer at Diatom Wines, it’s an old vine Chardonnay, no oak, no malo from a unique site in Santa Maria Valley! The 2017 Diatom Katherine’s defies expectations and delivers a wonderful experience and unbelievably is a finely textural driven Chardonnay. Not for everyone, for sure, but I am thrilled it exists and admire this courageous example of California Chardonnay! The Katherine’s, sourced from forty-eight-year-old, self-rooted vines in the north-west corner of Cambria’s Santa Maria Estate that allows for generous fruit and complex depth of flavors. The 2017 Katherine’s, according to Brewer, is from a parcel that is set on gravelly loam soils heavily influenced by the pronounced maritime influence of the nearby Pacific Ocean making it perfect for his Diatom label. Fermentation is done at very low temperatures in small stainless-steel tanks, with inhibited malo-lactic, he uses ultra short hose transit to ensure precision and focus, all in pursuit of creating a vibrant form that looks towards honing down to the very essence of the grape and terroir. Explaining Diatom can sometimes wander off into zen writings and poetry, it’s not an easy wine to understand for the novice, but it’s without a doubt a serious palate journey and this Katherine’s is brilliant in it’s severe detail, best to take this trip with simple and raw foods, especially things like saline fresh sashimi. The core of this Chardonnay is it’s fruit with it’s intense layers of crisp apple, a mix of tangy citrus with kefir lime, lemon zest and touch of grapefruit along with quinces, kumquat and a vein of tart peach, adding mineral tones, wet stones and a bosc pear butter sensation, which is more of a texture thing, rather than an overt flavor. This is a wine that will challenge you, not a wine that seeks to comfort you, but that said and as mentioned there is a surprising amount of mouth feel and the fruit is ripe and rewarding, it’s an intriguing and well crafted effort, best with a sense of purpose, meaning a meal and friends.
($32 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive

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