2018 Chardonnay, "Top Cream"
Estate Grown, Sta. Rita Hills
Last year I mentioned how it was a happy/sad feeling that I had while writing my notes for the 2017 Top Cream. I was happy because that wine was as good as any Chardonnay I had ever bottled in 35 years, and I was very proud of it. I was sad because my vineyard that historically produced Top Cream was dying from Pierce’s disease, and that the 2017 might very well be the last Estate Grown Chardonnay that I would produce in my life time. I also mentioned at that point that my next challenge would be find a vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills that would be worthy of inheriting the Top Cream moniker for a single-vineyard Chardonnay that could stand next to The Limit. At the time I also mentioned that I thought that vineyard might be Donnachadh, because, like my Estate Top Cream vineyard, the Chardonnay at Donnachadh grows in a very sandy soil, and I thought this might express a characteristic minerality that was similar to what we all loved when we drank all those past Top Creams of yesteryear. Well, what can I say; every now and then nature throws you a bone.
This wine is stunning. It is seamlessly sewn together. It is weighty, and at the same time, nimble.
After 9 months on its lees in the delicately toasted Oak crafted by Burgundy’s Gerome Fouailly, the nose is of a creamy honeysuckle and baked vanilla brioche. The fruit is hard to pin down exactly. I keep asking myself, “Is that tropical? Or is that citrus? Or, is that maybe stone fruit?” What I do know is that it’s mesmerizing. The texture is fat, but the beautifully balanced acidity whisks it off of your palate as you swallow, leaving you with a feeling on your tongue of an energized resin of terroir that, yes, does remind me of Top Cream’s past. As I write these notes, it is the happy without the sad. Indeed it looks like Donnachadh will be a fine heir to the Top Cream designation.
100% Chardonnay, Estate Grown, Sta. Rita Hills