2013 Brewer-Clifton Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay

SKU #1212480 92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Bright yellow. Vibrant pear and Meyer lemon aromas are complicated by anise, ginger and smoky minerals. Dry, nervy and sharply focused, offering intense, mineral-laced citrus and orchard fruit flavors and a touch of bitter quinine. At once rich and precise, nicely blending power and stony vivacity. A suave floral quality builds through the finish, which shows excellent clarity and floral persistence. Imagine chardonnay grown and made by a serious Galician winemaker. The 2013 chardonnays here were being prepared for bottling and were not in a state to taste so I was only able to try Greg Brewer and Steve Clifton's entry-level bottling, which was perhaps the best "basic" wine I tasted during the course of my trip. Taking that into account, I expect that the single-vineyard offerings, which are scheduled to be released in January, should be high-priority buys for fans of this winery. As usual, the 2012 pinots were made entirely with whole clusters and show the flamboyant fruit of the vintage to full effect, but the wines have more than enough acidity and framework to suggest that they'll age gracefully. Brewer thinks that they'll be appealing to those "who drink pinot for its sex appeal" as well as those "who want them to show a little more mystery" down the road. (JR)  (12/2014)

91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 A solid step-up from the 2012, the 2013 Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills offers lots golden fruits, honeysuckle, brioche and a touch of sauteed pear-like notes to go with a medium-bodied, ripe, yet balanced feel on the palate. Delicious, classic and beautifully made, this is an outstanding Chardonnay that has both freshness and texture. I'd drink it over the coming 3-4 years, but it will evolve for longer. (JD)  (6/2015)

90 points Vinous

 The 2013 Chardonnay Sta. Rita Hills is round, succulent and deeply expressive. Orange peel, butter, chamomile and apricot pit flesh out in the glass. The style is open-knit and accessible, with lovely oiliness and textural richness throughout. Vineyard sources are 3-D, Gnesa and Machado. This is a strong set of new releases from Brewer-Clifton. The Chardonnays in particular are brilliant, once again showing just how compelling this vintage can be. As always, the Chardonnays are built on texture and phenolic intensity. The Pinot Noirs are done with 100% whole clusters (the appellation wine sees 60-80%), with long cold soaks and maceration times lasting as long as 4-5 weeks. (AG)  (6/2015)

Jancis Robinson

 Very clean and fresh without a trace of sweetness nor heaviness. Really racy and delicate. Bravissimo!  (3/2015)

Wine Spectator

 Intense and lively, with a touch of alcohol showing amid the rich fig, honeydew, honeysuckle and light oak notes. Holds together nicely and should gain within a few months. Shows a twinge of bitterness on the aftertaste. Drink now. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. (JL)  (6/2016)

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Price: $31.99

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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.