2018 Alfaro Family Vineyards, Chardonnay, Trout Gulch Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains.
The gorgeously energy filled and textural Trout Gulch Chardonnay by Richard Alfaro at Alfaro Family Vineyards is definitely one of the best values in the state for top quality Chardonnay, and this 2018 is one of the most thrilling vintages I’ve tried so far with incredible detailing, layering of flavors and its heavenly vinous mouth feel. Those that like Cote de Beaune substance and style will find huge joy in this Trout Gulch, with its cool mineral intensity, depth and smooth underlying acidity, it perfectly captures the long and cool growing season that allowed ripe fruit development, but exceptional clarity, balance and the mentioned textural creaminess that is not in least bit heavy, but graceful and luxurious all the same. The Alfaro Trout Gulch starts with spring white flowers, with a hint of honeysuckle and citrus, along with a touch of loam and flint, before a medium to fill bodied palate of apple, pear and tart peach fruit that is accented by lemon curd, clarified cream, clove spice, smoky/toast, hazelnut and a whiff of vanilla. There is a steely drive, a saline (sea shore) quality and a wet rock element that runs all the way through this fabulous Chardonnay that always oops up in my favorite examples and elevates this wine into the top league in my book, it gives me the same pleasure that I get from white Burgundy, especially the really memorable ones, like Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey’s Saint-Aubin and Roulot’s basic Bourgogne Blanc. This vineyard, near the towns of Aptos and Soquel is not far from the Ocean and gets loads of cool breezes and morning and evening marine layer influence and it has been the source for some other fantastic bottlings, like John Raytek’s Ceritas and Duncan Meyer’s Arnot-Roberts versions, both of which are highly sought after and wines I really admire.

The Trout Gulch site was originally established in 1980, but this dry-farmed vineyard, which is nestled between forested hillsides near the town of Aptos in the Santa Cruz Mountains really only came into its own under the guidance of Richard Alfaro and wines like this prove it, this cool climate vineyard is a source of spectacular grapes. It should also be noted, that Richard’s own estate vineyard in Corralitos also produces world class Chardonnay, and while there is great Pinot Noir grown in both sites as well, these Chardonnays are just stunning and shows clearly that Alfaro has a specially touch with this grape. Trout Gulch, which is farmed using organic methods and in full maturity, set on loam and harden clay like soils with some sand, is up at about 600 feet and only 3.5 miles from the Pacific and is planted to the Wente clone that gives this wine its wonderful concentration. The lightly golden Alfaro Trout Gulch Chardonnay was barrel fermented and aged in neutral French oak, where it rested for just 8 months before bottling to preserve its zesty freshness, but still allow for that glorious richness, this would be outstanding with lobster tail and dripping butter, as well as triple cream soft cheeses. Alfaro started his label back in 1998 and has created a solid following over the years since with a solid collection of wines, led by these Chards and his Pinots, which are always tasty offerings, plus his zingy Gruner Veltliner, that is one of the best examples of this varietal outside of Austria. There is a lot to get excited about when tasting through Alfaro’s lineup from this one to his heritage clone Pinot, to his Syrah to the Rosé of Pinot Noir, if you’ve not sampled these wines, you really should!
($30 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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