The 2014 Chardonnay (Sta. Rita Hills) is rich and powerful in the glass, yet also shows good energy and overall translucence, especially for such an ample, broad-shouldered wine. Orange blossom, mint, spice and butter are front and center. With time in the glass, more tropically-leaning notes begin to develop. This, too, is, very nicely done. It will be interesting to see how things develop at Melville now that Chad Melville has taken over winemaking from Greg Brewer. Melville has long run vineyard operations, but this is the first time in the estate's history that farming and winemaking are all managed by the same person. Melville keeps his cards close to the vest when it comes to what he is going to change in winemaking, but the 2015 Clone 76 gives some indication, as it is made in a style that is much less reductive than has been the case in the past. The Pinots (except the Indigène) and the Syrahs are made with a high percentage of whole clusters and are aged in neutral oak. (JR)
Made in a more reductive style, this bottling conveys a tremendously intriguing sense of yogurt and Brie cheese rind on the nose, with orange rind, guava skin, green pear, tuberose and graphite notes. The palate grips with a pear skin and limezest tang, and that dairy note holds strong.
I found the 2014 Chardonnay Estate (aged eight months in neutral oak) surprisingly simple and forward, with medium-bodied notes of stone fruits, dried herbs and buttered apples. It should be enjoyed over the coming couple of years. (JD)
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