2011 Clos Pepe "Barrel Fermented" Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay

SKU #1125519 91 points Vinous

 The 2011 Chardonnay Barrel Fermented boasts gorgeous textural depth and volume. Varietal notes flesh out in a wine that shows tons of Clos Pepe character in its brightness, but with an additional layer of complexity from the fermentation in barrel. This is the first Clos Pepe Chardonnay to see a touch of new oak, 5% in this vintage. The flavors are a little broader than in the Hommage, but the style is quintessentially Clos Pepe and 2011. Drinking window: 2013 - 2018 These 2011s from Clos Pepe and Wes Hagen are brilliant. Unlike most California Chardonnays and Pinots, the Clos Pepe wines are usually very tight when they are young, and that is especially true in 2011, a very cold growing season. The wines need considerable air to show well if opened today. A generous decant will do wonders for both the Pinots and Chards. I hope to taste the 2011s again in another 6-12 months, as I am pretty sure there is a lot more to all four of these wines.  (7/2013)

K&L Notes

The 2011 is a little different than previous releases--well, five percent different, to put a figure on it. Clos Pepe added five percent new French oak (two barrels) to their usual regimen of neutral oak barrel fermentation. "We wanted to elevate the aromatics and richness slightly to make the wine a little more distinct from the Homage," the vintners explain. "Even the two new barrels significantly impacted the character of this wine. While a far cry from becoming 'cougar juice,' the structured, minerally, wonderfully perky young Chardonnay does show a blush of French oak, but stays very beautifully in balance, and will integrate within 3-5 years. The wine shows rich vanilla, oak toast, grapefruit, apple, dusty minerals and lime zest in the nose. Aromatic complexity is matched by a dry, rich attack, a persistent finish and plenty of acidity to frame this slightly stylistic impression of Clos Pepe in 2011. Savor with fried chicken or lobster with drawn butter."

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Price: $24.99
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Staff Image By: Sarah Covey | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 3/19/2013 | Send Email
Apple, toast, slate, vanilla with medium plus acidity and interesting structure! Fermented in neutral barrels, and aged in just 7% new French oak. A wine to tuck away for a year, if you can!

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- It's hard to believe that up until about 30 years ago, this extremely popular varietal hid behind the veil of geographical names like Chablis and Puligny-Montrachet. Now grown all over the world and bottled by its varietal name, Chardonnay has achieved a level of branding unlike any other wine. Surprisingly, though, what you get when you buy Chardonnay can differ greatly from country to country and even within one country, depending on the climate where it's grown and how it is vinified and aged. From fresh, crisp and minerally with apple and lemon notes to rich and buttery with tropical fruit overtones, Chardonnay runs the gamut. In France's Burgundy, Chardonnay is the source of the prized wines of Chablis, Corton-Charlemagne, Mâcon, Meursault and Montrachet. It also the foundation of exceptional Champagne, where it is blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier or vinified on its own into Blanc de Blancs. It is also extremely popular in California, and is gaining popularity in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain and South Africa.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world. Click for a list of bestselling items from the United States.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year. For our entire selection of California wines, please visit this link.
Specific Appellation:

Santa Maria/Santa Barbara

- Santa Maria and Santa Ynez make up the two AVAs of Santa Barbara County, an area known for its natural beauty and temperate climate. The best grape-growing areas, however, are located on the very coastal reaches of these two appellations, and are cooled by ever-present fog and ocean breezes (it is even cooler and foggier here than Carneros!). As expected, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir thrive while the more inland zones lay claim to Bordeaux varietals and some Rhône blends.
Alcohol Content (%): 13.5