2011 Kenneth Volk "Jaybird" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay

SKU #1130573 90 points Wine Enthusiast

 With this bottling, Kenneth Volk has produced the quintessential cool-climate, unoaked Chardonnay. The grape variety reveals itself strongly, with classic peach and tropical fruit flavors that are very ripe, almost apricoty. The Santa Maria Valley’s chilly climate shows up in brisk, mouthwatering acidity, while the finish is thoroughly dry. Additional richness was provided by sur-lie aging, which brings creamy notes.  (7/2013)

K&L Notes

Kenneth Volk's un-oaked, Jaybird Chardonnay showcases the quality fruit and cool climate of Santa Maria Valley. The fruit was hand harvested and sorted before being pressed and fermented very slowly at cool temperatures to emphasize the fresh and bright characteristics of the wine. The wine was aged in tank on the lees to impart a creamy texture. From the winery: "Our 2011 Jaybird Chardonnay has aromas of ripe Granny Smith apple and citrus zest. On the palate, flavors of pear apple, and papaya lead to a flinty finish held up by bright acidity."

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Price: $14.99
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Staff Image By: Bryan Brick | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 5/23/2013 | Send Email
After a considerable absence we couldn’t be happier to have the Kenneth Volk wines back at K&L. Honestly, I couldn’t really tell you why they’ve been gone so long because there really wasn’t a distinct reason. What I do know is that the Jaybird Chardonnay is a perfect reintroduction of the winey which began operations in 2004 under the watchful eye of Ken Volk, the original proprietor of Wild Horse Vineyards. A large proportion of this wine comes from the tremendous vines at the Sierra Madre Vineyard just down the road from the winery and that is exactly what shows up here, those wonderful raw materials. Completely unoaked this is a refreshing Chardonnay akin to those of the Macon in riper years. The think that I really loved about this wine is that it doesn’t fall into the trap of so many Domestic unoaked Chards which is picking the fruit so ripe that the wine is uber-tropical/textural even if there is no oak. Here you get just delicious flavors of apple skin, Bosq pear flesh and lovely zesty acidity. Far from linear in scope this also shows nice breadth on the palate and just a touch of leesy richness on the finish. Welcome Back Kenneth Volk!

Staff Image By: Ryan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 5/22/2013 | Send Email
A great rendition of Unoaked Chard. This wine has good brightness and freshness combined with some nice weight and texture from some healthy lees stirring. Crisp apple and ripe pear combine with some grainy, malty notes. The acidity is apparent but rounded off and not abrasive like some stainless chards. A very well thought out wine that is sure to please those who don't go for the big butter bombs.

Staff Image By: Greg St. Clair | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 5/22/2013 | Send Email
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Waxing poetically about California Chardonnay isn't usually amongst my staff reviews. Even more so for unoaked California Chardonnay which mostly seemed to have lacked any flavor once the oak was gone. This wine however has completely changed my opinion, this is a complete wine, it just never needed the oak like most California Chards. The Jaybird has size, focus, natural balance, pure chardonnay flavor, and a wonderfully expressive aromatic profile. The even more amazing thing is the price? This lands in the "Are you kidding me?" category, this wine outperforms so many other unoaked California Chardonnay it is in a league of its' own! Bravo to Kenneth Volk, longtime pioneer in this region blazing a trail towards real wine!
Drink from 2013 to 2015

Additional Information:



- 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 (%): 14.7