Monday, March 27, 2017

Wood You Like Some Chardonnay?

Dierberg Vineyard is just 14 miles from Pacific Ocean, in the southern part of Santa Maria Valley. Mary and Jim Dierberg came west from Missouri, where they had made wine for decades. They landed in Santa Barbara County in 1996 and grow some fine grapes in the Dierberg and Drum Canyon vineyards as well as the warmer Star Lane Vineyard.

The 2013 Dierberg Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, Dierberg Vineyard sets alcohol at a very California-esque 14.6% abv. It sells for $32, which isn’t cheap, but isn't exactly the high limit for a good Chardonnay, either. It aged for 16 months in French oak, only 15% of which was new. The 2013 vintage was warm and dry with an early harvest period from August into September.

This golden Chardonnay is more than three years old, something I don't get to sample too often. I'm usually asked to taste newer vintages. A little age goes quite well on this grape, though. It smells of almost pungent tropical fruit - guava, mango, pineapple - and has a good deal of vanilla spice in there, too. Over-oaked? It's not shy, but you be the judge. I can take it fairly well from either end of the spectrum, but this much oak generally hits me better in cooler months. The palate gives a nice framework for the apples and pears and peaches to be dunked in vanilla, too. There's a great savory aspect to the wood that keeps it from being "ordinary," and places it in an arena where the $32 price tag looks like bargain hunting.

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