Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Foley Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills 2009

Here is another example of waiting a tad too long to enjoy a white wine.  In this case, the forgotten bottle of Foley Chardonnay 2009 has felt the effects of age, but it actually appeals to me greatly in its present state.

From Santa Barbara County's Rancho Santa Rosa Vineyard, this Chardonnay was wonderfully fruity in its youth.  Today, the years have left their mark.  I'm not disappointed, though, and I'm glad the bottle languished in the rack so long.

Owner William Foley II is living the dream, and the dream is "to produce world-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara County."  His Rancho Santa Rosa Vineyard is a former thoroughbred horse ranch in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation of the Santa Ynez Valley.  It is planted primarily to the two grapes that capture his fascination, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Winemaker Leslie Mead Renaud gets the most out of the grapes produced in the limestone soil of this vineyard.

This Chardonnay has a gorgeous golden color, rich and inviting.  The aromas of pineapple and apricot are just touched by oak.  A nice vanilla note is a testament to that, and minerals are in abundance.  On the palate, the apricot is pronounced, and a smoky note is draped over it.  I am reminded of the wonderful white wine of Spanish producer Lopez de Heredia, whose whites are routinely aged for decades before release.

The alcohol content of 14.3% packs a bit of a wallop, but it's not an unusually high number for this area.  The wine's gorgeous palate is complex, the acidity is lively, the minerality is rocky and the finish is long and savory.  Oak treatment involves new French oak for 16 months, and 75% of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation.  Holding back a quarter from malo preserved acidity while still allowing for a nice, creamy mouthfeel.

It's hard to forget a wine like this is waiting to be opened, but it can be a good thing if it does slip your mind for a bit.


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