Sandhi, Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay 2014
It was a great pleasure to visit Rajat Parr in Santa Barbara at the beginning of this year and to see some of the extreme sites his team are farming. Since 2011, Raj and his winemaker Sashi Moorman have been producing consistently thrilling Chardonnays and the 2014s may well be their best to date. This wine, which hails from a vineyard planted in 1971 by the pioneering Richard Sandford, is beautiful, opening in the glass with a complex bouquet of lemon zest, tart pear, tangerine oil, subtle hazlenut and a lick of noble reduction. On the palate the wine is concentrated, intense and deep at the core, with great cut and energy through a finish that tingles with minerality. At 12% alcohol this is very far from the caricature of California Chardonnay, and readers who are about to get stung by 2015 Burgundy pricing should give this a serious look.
Taster: William Kelley