2018 Diatom, Chardonnay, Santos Road, Sta. Rita Hills.
The beautiful no wood “inox” Diatom 2018 Santos Road Chardonnay, by Greg Brewer, the winemaker at the famous Brewer-Clifton, is a single Hyde clone wine, is sourced from a tiny and unique sandy parcel within Brewer-Clifton’s 3D Vineyard, which sits along Santos Road in the Sta. Rita Hills, hence the name here. I had given this wine a little cellar rest and it has done nicely to allow more texture and complexity to develop, while retaining its brilliant vibrancy and pure essences, it might be my favorite bottling of these exotic Diatom Chards with its impressive array of yellow fruits, including a mix of citrus, stone fruit and delicate tropical notes, wet stones, white flowers and steely/mineral tones. There is a no oak, non-malo briskness and tangy edge to start, but things deepen with air and warmth with this Santos Road Chardonnay adding impressive mouth feel and at 14.5% natural alcohol this wine has ripe impact on the palate, though it stays very vivid and feels gracefully balance, making it delicious with a range of cuisine, in particular this wine would be fantastic with Sushi, especially clear fresh cuts of Toro (creamy fatty tuna) and or crab dishes. This Santos Road comes alive with an electric shock of lemon/lime, Asian pear, kiwi and green apple in a flourish of an exciting cascade of flavors.
Brewer’s Diatom Chardonnay collection are his personal project and are some of the most interesting versions of California Chard out there, this limited and hand crafted wines are a set of no compromise offerings that are very different from his Brewer-Clifton bottlings. The Diatom fermentation(s) are done at very low temperatures using only small stainless steel tanks, with special yeasts and, as noted, no malo-lactic conversion. The movement of the wine is done with exceptionally short hose travel to ensure precision and focus, they are, again as mentioned above, all inox (stainless tank) wines, made without any oak at all, Greg really is looking to present these wines with an intense purpose and spends much of his time in the vineyards watching the grapes, only picking when the grapes have reached perfect development of flavors, regardless of internal sugars, so some vintages will have exceptionally low alcohol in the 12% range and others sometimes as high as 16%!. But, when you taste Diatom, as I’ve mentioned over the years, in my opinion, you get a tour of the zen like focus of Brewer’s mind, these are precision wines that channel the inner purity of Chardonnay (grapes) down to it’s core essence, they are unlike any other Chardonnays. The 2018s and the current 2019s look to be some of the best yet from Diatom, benefiting from near perfect conditions, with their long cool growing seasons, allowing these Chardonnays to deliver brilliance in the glass.
($40 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive