Spruce Bruce

Gloriously bitter, tangy and writhing in spirit, this is an example of the grape which makes me–again–wonder about two kinds of people: People who prefer pudding Chardonnays day after day, reaching for the same tired, over-wrought examples over and over; And those who say Chardonnay is boring and refuse to drink it. My guess is the latters are all formerly formers, or perhaps those in the latter group are all married to or associated with those in the former. While this wine isn’t going to woo any Burgundy-freaks, it also presents a version of California far removed from supermarket identities. Pale golden straw with obvious legs, it churns out a clean, stone-driven nose restrained while rich, pear and applesauce glowing greenly, washed spinach and raked leaves bringing up the vegetal portion.

The mouthfeel presents a yin-yang sort of compromise between the two styles of this variety obligatorily trotted out in any discussion. And this is where I think MOST of the Chardonnays us snobs drink from the new world are headed. Stop with the Burgundian comparisons. Your Chard doesn’t taste like Chablis, bro, OK? Just get over it. Remove that verbiage from the back label and tell the tasting room girls to stop telling people that. I would rather someone told me their wine was oak & butter and find it FARRRRR shy of Rombauer than have someone insist their wine is Burgundian-style and find it clean and kissed by California sunshine and a couple barrels. Wouldn’t you? And this wine–like most of the Chards I drink–slides down perfectly in that category: The intake rich and sweet, slathered with apricot and peach, smoothly going bitter and grimy, the citrus zing a final swell against oaky icing. This is the way Chardonnay is supposed to be made in California, and Hilliard-Bruce is going to richen up those sweepstakes a bit. A glorious wine taking no effort to love.

2021 DUSTY NABOR Chardonnay Hilliard Bruce Vyd. Santa Rita Hills Santa Barbara Co. 14.0


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