2013 Liquid Farm "White Hill" Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay

SKU #1177301 92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Light yellow-gold. Tangerine, pear skin and a hint of honey on the perfumed nose. Broad and silky on entry, offering pliant orchard and citrus fruit flavors that tighten up on the back half while picking up a touch of bitter quince. Nicely taut for the vintage, finishing with strong thrust and persistent mineral and floral flourishes. Nikki and Jeff Nelson have fully settled into their own facility just north of metropolitan Buellton. They recently took on a full-time winemaker, James Sparks, whose brother-in-law Brandon Sparks-Gillis is part of the Dragonette team, whose space the Nelsons formerly used for their own wines. While there's a pinot noir on the horizon here, the focus is squarely on chardonnay, 'made in the style of wines that we like to drink, which means Burgundy,' according to Jeff Nelson. That said, the Nelsons are quick to point out that their goal 'sn't imitation but emulation' and that they're not trying to suppress 'the fruit that makes California, California. It's more a matter of not letting the fruit get the upper hand and running all over everything else, which means careful growing, harvesting at the right time, and then doing as little as possible from crush to bottling.' The wines do indeed taste Burgundy-inspired and this winery has quickly moved onto a number of sommeliers' 'A list' as a source for domestic chardonnay. (Josh Raynolds)  (12/2014)

92 points Vinous

 The 2013 Chardonnay White Hill is one of the most supple, open-knit wines in the range. Hints of apricot pit, smoke, butter, chamomile and honey flesh out in a succulent Chardonnay with tons of near and medium-term appeal. This is the most expressive and complete of the 2013 Liquid Farm Chardonnays for current drinking. (AG)  (6/2015)

Wine Enthusiast

 This homage to Chablis blends fruit from Bentrock (49%), Rita's Crown (22%), Zotovich (14%), Kessler-Haak (8%), Clos Pepe (3%), Esperanza (3%) and Radian (1%) vineyards, delivering tight aromas of yellow flowers and grilled peach. It dances across the tongue with playful, squeezed lemon acidity, showing crushed white rocks and baking soda minerality, and finishing its high tones on a grapefruit pith bitterness. (MK)  (4/2015)

K&L Notes

From the winery: "The leaner and more Chablisiane reminiscent of our two main Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay bottlings, White Hill highlights the unique salinity that comes through in the ancient soils of Sta. Rita Hills. Mineral, yellow peach, fresh rain, Asian pear, salinity, candied ginger, lavender cream."

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Price: $37.99
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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.


- 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.
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 (%): 13.4