2019 Chardonnay "Top Cream"
Donnachadh Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills
At this time two years ago I mentioned how it was a happy-sad feeling that I had while writing my notes for the 2017 Top Cream Chardonnay. 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, which historically produced Top Cream, was dying from Pierce’s disease, and that the 2017 bottling may very well be the last Estate Grown Chardonnay that I would produce in my lifetime. I also mentioned that my next challenge would be to find a Chardonnay vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills worthy of inheriting the Top Cream moniker for a single-vineyard cuvee that could stand next to The Limit. That vineyard has turned out to be Donnachadh (pronounced Donna Kah). Similar to my estate vineyard, the Chardonnay at Donnachadh grows in a very sandy soil, which, I believe, expresses a distinctive minerality that is aromatically similar to that which we loved when we drank all those past Top Creams of yesteryear. What can I say; every now and then nature throws you a bone.
This 2019 bottling is again stunning. Seamlessly sewn together after a full elevage in 1/3 new French Oak, it’s weighty, and at the same time, nimble. After 9 months sur lie, the nose is of a toasty vanilla brioche with sprinkles of bees wax and butterscotch. The fruit is hard to pin down exactly, being somewhere between citrus and stone fruit. With a strong sense of minerality to boot, the whole equation is mesmerizing. The texture is creamy with a beautifully balanced acidity that dissolves the layers onto your palate, leaving you with an energized resin of terroir that, yes, does remind me of Top Cream’s past. As I write these notes, the wine is still a little wiry, but should be drinking beautifully by Christmas (2020). If you want to experience all the layers, don’t chill it down too much. The nuances have more lift at a little higher temperature. Foods; creamy pesto or alfredo pastas. Throw in some scallops and you’re good to go. Shave in some white truffles, and you’re really good to go. It may not be from my soil, but Top Cream lives!
100% Chardonnay, Estate Grown, Sta. Rita Hills