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Liquid Farm, White Hill Chardonnay 2017
Santa Rita Hills
The team behind Liquid Farm initially set out to make one Chardonnay from the four barrels they produced in Santa Rita Hills in their first vintage in 2009. But the very different character of their two vineyard plots convinced them to make two cuvees, with White Hill, then as now, the more Chablis-esque of the pair. `USA meets Burgundy`, the judges said of a wine made in a `tight and reserved` style. `There is a lovely texture of minerals, crushed rocks and excellent length.
Sta. Rita Hills is blessed with incredible ancient soils that are extremely Chardonnay suited. The sandy-alluvial soils drain like nobody's business (picture how fast water would go through thick clay vs. beach sand). This means that the vines have to get crafty and dig deep for water. And, just like people who are stronger and more complex when they have overcome challenges, vines are the same. If they have it on easy street with rich, fertile soils and never have to work for water, the personality of the wine reflects that � it's usually more monotone with less going on. Additionally, to have minerality potential you need that white porous rock and in a very cool climate. The diatomaceous soils that flow through this undoubtedly cool region are made up basically of pure silica. So, Step 2. Well drained � check! And, step 3. White porous rock, check! Our lower alcohol content and natural acidity are due to the cool climate of SRH as well as its soils. This also means picking early and soon after phenolically ripe to attain a lower potential alcohol and keep acidity high and pH low which equates to more balanced, table-friendly wines. The wine is generally left to its own devices after it is handpicked and gently pressed post-harvest. Native yeast fermentation is also carried out for all new barrels and an increasing amount of neutral barrels. We predominantaly use neutral oak (used min. 4-5 times and as a result don't impart ANY aromas/flavors), as we prefer Chardonnay profiles made allowing small amounts of oxygen. Stainless tanks don't allow oxygen at all, while heavy new/charred oak tends to mask the fruit.
One of the premier boutique producers of Chardonnay in Santa Barbara, Liquid Farm has impressed with their old world style of winemaking - making exceptional Chardonnays full of energy, minerality, acid and old world soul. Jeff Nielsen and his wife Nikki founded Liquid Farm in 2009 with four barrels. Jeff had been in the wine business for 15 years, working with Champagne and Burgundy houses, but this was his first venture on his own as a producer. The husband and wife duo started the winery�to, as they put it, �support local viticulture and honor our love for old world wines that have naturally high acidity and which are not masked by modern day manipulations.� Jeff and Nikki�don�t own vineyards (yet) but they have developed relationships with over a dozen prime vineyard sites in and around the Sta. Rita Hills AVA including Bien Naciedo vineyard and the Clos Pepe vineyard. All of Liquid Farm�s wines are produced using native fermentation. They hand pick early and take a minimalist approach to winemaking. Much of their approach has been adopted from the Burgundian wineries they love. But,while�Liquid Farm�strives to create wines as complex and serious as those from Burgundy, they aren�t trying to re-create Burgundy. Winemaker James Sparks produces Chardonnay that is terroir and mineral driven from cool climates with little or no new oak intervention.
The Wine Gang, 92pts(2015) - Classy Santa Barbara Chardonnay with a lovely lemon and vanilla depth together with a mellow toastiness and a ripe baked apple fruit. Rich, mellow and with plenty of layers, this has lovely clean fruit, it`s precise and complex with a real generosity of flavour. Goes with chicken.