2012 Chad Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley
 
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Dierberg Vineyards, Santa Maria Valley Dierberg "Unoaked"

Few young winemakers on the coast are riding a hot streak like Justin Willett at Tyler Winery. Since Willett's first releases in 2005, Tyler has exploded on the critical scene, earning some of the highest scores on the southern coastline from The Wine Advocate and Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar.

The secret to Tyler's success lies both in Willett's deft hand in the cellar and in the young winemaker's choices of vineyard sources. For his tiny-production, single-vineyard Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays (Tyler made a total of just 2,500 cases in 2011), Justin looks to the historic Sanford & Benedict Vineyard and the old-vine rows of Bien Nacido. But arguably the most scintillating bottles coming out of the Tyler cellar these days are drawn from Jim Dierberg's manicured hillside holdings.

The 2011 Tyler Chardonnay Dierberg Vineyard earned 94 points from The Wine Advocate, just one point more than Dierberg's own estate-bottled Chardonnays from 2009 and 2010 — each of which came in at a lofty 93. While each wine bears the signature of its maker, the richly wound-up, crystalline lemon-curd purity of Dierberg Chardonnay is common to all.

What does all this have to do with today's offer for the 2012 Chad Chardonnay Central Coast? Scroll back up to the BUY button. Get your trigger finger ready. And KEEP reading.

At a Napa Valley BBQ in the summer of 2009, in the midst of the financial storm, a young winemaker hatched an idea that would soon take NYC's top restaurants by storm. Chad single-vineyard Pinot Noirs and Cabernet Sauvignons soon graced the tables at Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud at 64th and Broadway. WineAccess members feasted on the same wines — all of which could be found on retail shelves under the winery's own label for twice the WineAccess price. Buyers dropped a torrent of 5-star ratings and reviews on every Chad release.

But when it came to Chardonnay, Chad sent little our way. "There are very few top-shelf Chardonnay producers in California, largely because there are very few top-shelf vineyards," Chad lamented. "The top guys (Kistler, Ramey, Kongsgaard, Morlet, Peter Michael) never missed a beat during the crisis. So I stuck almost entirely to Pinot Noir and Cabernet." Then our winemaker friend smiled and winked. "Until I got the call from Dierberg last August, just before harvest."

Not only was the 2012 Chad Chardonnay Central Coast drawn from 100 percent Dierberg Vineyard fruit, but the wine was made at Dierberg under the same watchful eyes of the same team that was responsible for those back-to-back 93-point Chardonnays. But unlike Justin Willett's Dierberg Chardonnay or Dierberg's rendering, and due to the natural fatness of the 2012 vintage, Chad takes a page out of Pouilly-Fuissé playbook, eschewing the use of oak, allowing the wonderfully steely, ripe-citrus opulence of the vineyard to do all the talking.

The 2012 Chad Chardonnay Central Coast takes a luscious page from a superb Pouilly-Fuissé playbook. BRILLIANT pale-gold to the rim, infused with mouthwatering aromas of lemon curd, white peach and maritime minerality, the attack is at once rich, dense and plush. Beautifully focused and wound-up, the attack is packed with a lush mix of apple and pear, all that 2012 opulence braced by riveting acid backbone. Drink now in its high-energy youthfulness, or like all the great Dierberg Vineyard Chardonnays, lay this one down for 5-7 years.



Tasting Notes

2012 Chad Chardonnay Santa Maria Valley
"The 2012 Chad Chardonnay Central Coast takes a luscious page from a superb Pouilly-Fuissé playbook. BRILLIANT pale-gold to the rim, infused with mouthwatering aromas of lemon curd, white peach and maritime minerality, the attack is at once rich, dense and plush. Beautifully focused and wound-up, the attack is packed with a lush mix of apple and pear, all that 2012 opulence braced by riveting acid backbone. Drink now in its high-energy youthfulness, or like all the great Dierberg Vineyard Chardonnays, lay this one down for 5-7 years."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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