Cry Me a Chard

Deep legal-pad with a smoky, woodsy nose packed with chalky mud and wilted blossom. Creamy and round in bouquet, though the *buttery* is held far at bay in favor of more green shrubby-ness and stewed apple spice. California Chardonnays get asterisks from LOTS of wine-snobs, and a fair number of them cross my desk, but I’m fairly picky about the ones I review. Everyone likes to SAY they love Chablis, but when the rubber hits the road: FEW actually want that kind of starkness and acidity–at least at the price-points we’re talking here. And California can make–and DOES make–a ton of brilliant chards, and it’s not all Rombauer. The beautiful things this grape expresses with a bit of malo and oak is a timeless relationship, and I like a nice balance. You shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Tasting it tells me malo was firmly kept in check, though lees play an important part. Light and sharp, the lasciviousness of neutral-aged lees granting welcome depth to a stark landscape of acidity and tangy fruit. Savory leather and fuzzy velvet offer texture akimbo to bitter tannin, sharp pear and grapefruit. It’s delicious. It’s rather Burgundian. It offers steely depth and focus alongside carefully expressed fruit: the former making up the body of the wine; the latter a peach-pit amalgamation confounding definite descriptor.

Crusty and abrasive, shying FAR away from slutty fruit expressions and safe explanations, it treads delicately a Chablis form: probably too shrill for the 99 and with juxtapositions true Chardonnay-fans will relish. The richness expressed here approaches heavenly levels though the demonic acid and structure assail the palate in ways defying California reason. Highly recommended and DEFINITELY one for the cellar. This is a 20-year chard, straight up: buy two cases and drink one a year.

2020 DUSTY NABOR Chardonnay Hilliard Bruce Vyd Santa Rita Hills Santa Barbara Co 14.0

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