Golden green. So much fruit in the nose. Plum and vanilla, lily and green banana, this is NOT your massive oak & butter bomb, but clearly a fresh, lively alternative containing all the lovely chardonnay nuances we love with just the amount of oak the variety loves.
Yes, I love chardonnay with a little oak or in neutral barrels. I cringe whenever people insist on SS chard and they get an asterisk. It tastes weird. It’s not right. Chardonnay needs a little reduction, it needs to lose an angel’s portion, it needs the mellowing vanilla of a little oak. Chardonnay loves oak. Just relax with the dogma you inherited cutaneously from the 90’s, and let the variety speak properly in the way it has best shown itself for centuries.
And let’s talk about Arroyo Seco for a minute. Every chardonnay lover appreciates this little corner of grape-production. Down at the Southern end of Monterey County, tucked below the very last tip of the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA. As the name implies, it is mostly gravel river sediment, providing lots of drainage and rocky influences. The marine layer comes flowing over the coast range in the afternoon, chilling the vines which have their roots tucked into stones which have baked in the sun all day. Chardonnay Heaven.
In the mouth, nice dirty gun-metal minerality tries to push the sweet fruit aside before both cave to shrieking acidity. Mouth-filling and elegantly-fruited, the full roundness bows gently to a simple bitter pepper with makes this thing glow hard and long in the finish. nowhere does anything annoy or grate or muck about cloyingly. There is a smidgen of California baby-fat but it falls so carefully into the true Chardonnay spectrum–not the supermarket one–there are no complaints from this taster.
Quite possibly the world’s finest $14 Chardonnay. I DARE you to find anything at the grocery which drinks at anything NEAR this pure–almost Euro–shrill enjoyment.
2016 CAMERON HUGHES Lot 576 Chardonnay Arroyo Seco Monterey County 13.5