Coming from the Santa Maria Valley (this label is by and large focused on the Sta. Rita Hills), the 2017 Chardonnay Katherine’s just jumps from the glass with a perfumed, tropical bouquet of ripe citrus, spice, dried pineapple, and mango notes. Showing more and more classic salinity and oyster shell characteristics with time in the glass, it’s medium-bodied, has bright acidity, a layered, viscous texture, and a beautiful finish. It’s going to evolve for 8-10 years at a minimum.
The 2017 Chardonnay Katherine's is the most distinctive wine in this range. Crushed rocks, slate, lemon peel and graphite are some of the many notes that flesh out in an expansive, layered Chardonnay endowed with tremendous pedigree and sheer character. The Katherine's will be fascinating to follow as it develops in bottle. Even today, though, it is a true standout. (AG)
While Diatom was formerly wedded to sites in the Sta. Rita Hills, Brewer-Clifton produced a Chardonnay from Katherine's Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley (neighboring Bien Nacido) in the 1999 vintage, so in a sense this cuvée represents a return to old haunts. At 445 cases, the 2017 Chardonnay Katherine's is also by some margin Diatom's largest bottling this vintage. Notes of peach, grapefruit, pastry cream and lime cordial precede a medium-bodied, glossy, saline, acid-driven wine with beautiful purity and concentration. The Diatom wines were bottled only nine days before I tasted them, but they were remarkably open for inspection. Greg Brewer continues to produce these minimalist wines, fermented and matured in stainless steel with blocked malolactic fermentation, which foreground differences between specific vineyards, in turn amplified by different clonal selections of Chardonnay. What they share is searing intensity and energy. None of these are large cuvées, but admirers of this style will find the 2017 vintage well worth pursuit. (WK)
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