The vineyard sits at 1700’ elevation on an old lake bed, looking down at the Monterey Bay over Eureka Canyon in Corralitos. Being only 5 miles away from the Pacific Ocean, the maritime cooling influence, aka fog, creeps up Eureka Canyon and nestles in just below the vineyard, making it appear as if you are standing on an island in the sun, with the ability to step off the island and swim in the fog. Soils are grey sandstone and clay primarily, with marble or limestone deep down. 40 year-old vines, mostly dry-farmed, clone 4, 76, 95 and 809.
2021 was a spectacular growing season-- one of the two best I've seen in my career-- and it's most evident in the chardonnay from Split Rail. The long, even-temped summer season allowed full ripening with relatively low sugars, which is essential for Split Rail Chardonnay because it can finally release some of it's otherwise searing acidity. I'd worked with the vineyard for 12 vintages by 2021, and it was always a process of chasing that perfect balance of acidity and roundness that drove me, and the desired results have sometimes eluded me in the past. Not so with 2021. The aromatics of the 2021 are crispy bright and jump out of the glass with vivid chamomile tea, star jasmine and pineapple guava. The palate is the same, with snappy acidity that doesn't sear because it's backed by enough roundness that smooths the edges in and oh-so-happy way. There's Asian Pear, tree-ripened peach and hints of ripe Meyer lemon on the palate, with an almost subliminal glimpse of crème brûlée underneath.
I fully expect this Chardonnay to age magnificently for a minimum of 7 years, though she's thoroughly enjoyable right now. For this wine, try making a pesto out of Cilantro instead of Basil, with roasted (not raw) garlic, and stuff it inside a chicken breast that's lightly rolled in Italian breadcrumbs.
- Hand harvested at 22.0º brix in early October. pH 3.38, TA 7.8 g/L. 80% malolactic fermentation.
- Yeasts: D47, CY3079 and BRG.
- Half tank fermented, half barrel fermented.
- Aged 11 months sur lie in DAMY Exclusive and Montgillard VAN barrels (Vosge, Alliers, Nevers forests).
- 23% new oak.
91/Wine Enthusiast (booooooo! I'm getting Matt to taste this one again. He must have eaten an artichoke first, or something).