2008 Arcadian Winery Chardonnay Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands
 
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Arcadian Getting Real at Sleepy Hollow

In 2006, Joe Davis' Arcadian Sleepy Hollow Chardonnay, long one of the most distinguished examples of the variety on the coast, finally captured the imagination of the Wine Advocate. That 92pt rave review would be followed by an even more lofty 93pt rating of Davis' 2007. Still, each time we spoke to Joe about the viability of Sleepy Hollow on WineAccess, we balked. Here's why.

Even as Americans chug down Chardonnay in record quantities, few buyers are dropping more than $35/bottle on the coast's most popular white. Unless your name is Kistler, Ramey, Kongsgaard, or Peter Michael, there's no market at over $50. So, even if we acknowledged the single-vineyard provenance of Block B/Set 6 and the pathologically low yields of 2008 (one ton per acre!), the $55/bottle release price scared us off.

"Joe," we told the passionate winemaker, who first honed his craft at Domaine Dujac in Burgundy, "we love the 2008. But we're paid to keep the lights on at HQ. It's time to get real."

Set on the Santa Lucia bench, in the northwestern quadrant of the Salinas Valley, Sleepy Hollow Vineyard became a household word among wine enthusiasts when Robert Talbott purchased the property in 1990. The vines, now 43 years of age -- some of the oldest examples of the variety on the coast -- are well known for pushing out a small crop of full throttle Chardonnay that combines plush, dense New World density with riveting Burgundian acidity.

While Talbott's wines tend to be rich and forward, best enjoyed within five years of bottling, Davis' Arcadian renderings take years to come around, slowly peeling off fine layers of Wente Clone minerality, not really showing their cards until 3-4 years AFTER bottling. This 2008 is a perfect case in point.

Budbreak came early on Block B, soon to be followed by fine summer weather, somewhat warmer than the norm. Steady afternoon breezes off the Pacific cooled Sleepy Hollow, so even as sugars spiked, hang time was extended. "We like to push back harvest as long as possible at Sleepy Hollow, to maximize phenolic maturity. But by the end of September 2008, I worried that I might lose some of the acid backbone that allows these wines to age so gracefully. We went in early, on October 3. In retrospect, that call to harvest made the vintage."

The 2008 Arcadian Chardonnay Sleepy Hollow is pale straw-gold to the rim with piercing aromas of honeysuckle, citronelle and classic oyster shell. Richly textured, dense and high-toned on the attack, infused with beautifully delineated flavors of ripe citrus and bitter honey, we spent three hours this spellbinding 2008, swirling and sipping oversized Riedel. Despite its three years of bottle age, oxygen remains Sleepy Hollow's best friend!

While most in California are preparing the release of their 2011s, after 10 months in barrel and three and one-half years in bottle, Joe Davis finally is letting go of this 20 barrel production of this marvelous 2008. After two months of discussion, we finally convinced Joe to give Sleepy Hollow its day in the sun on WineAccess.



Tasting Notes

2008 Arcadian Winery Chardonnay Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands
"Pale straw-gold to the rim with piercing aromas of honeysuckle, citronelle and classic oyster shell. Richly textured, dense and high-toned on the attack, infused with beautifully delineated flavors of ripe citrus and bitter honey, we spent three hours this spellbinding 2008, swirling and sipping oversized Riedel. Be patient with this one. Despite its three years of bottle age, oxygen remains its friend. Drink now after one hour in a carafe -- or lay down for ANOTHER 3-5 years."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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