2009 Alta Maria Vineyards Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2009 Chardonnay shows lovely balance in its bright citrus fruit and sweet spices. This is a relatively tight, focused style of Chardonnay that impresses for its energy, focus and overall sense of harmony. The fruit was sourced from the Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills vineyards. The wine was aged on its lees in roughly equal parts oak and steel, with 50% of malolactic fermentation. It is a terrific value in California Chardonnay. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2014. These are two gorgeous wines from Alta Maria Vineyards, a project headed by James Ontiveros and Paul Wilkins.
No Chardonnay in California is richer or riper than this. It detonates on the palate with an explosion of pineapples, green apples, tangerines, apricots, honey, butterscotch and dusty cinnamon spices. Acidity is pretty and zesty. Would benefit from great subtlety, but it sure is opulent.
Alta Maria is the brainchild of viticulturist and winemaker James Ontiveros and Paul Wilkins, friends first, and now collaborators. Half the fruit for their small-production Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay (820 cases) goes through malolatic fermentation, giving this wine a custardy, rich California Chard mid palate while still providing plenty of food-friendly acidity. Green apple, melon, Ojai Pixie and hay aromas give way to a palate with anise, lavender, cinnamon and butterscotch flavors to balance the plush fruit. Delicious.