2014 Melville "Estate" Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay

SKU #1271615 92 points Vinous

 The 2014 Chardonnay (Sta. Rita Hills) is rich and powerful in the glass, yet also shows good energy and overall translucence, especially for such an ample, broad-shouldered wine. Orange blossom, mint, spice and butter are front and center. With time in the glass, more tropically-leaning notes begin to develop. This, too, is, very nicely done. It will be interesting to see how things develop at Melville now that Chad Melville has taken over winemaking from Greg Brewer. Melville has long run vineyard operations, but this is the first time in the estate's history that farming and winemaking are all managed by the same person. Melville keeps his cards close to the vest when it comes to what he is going to change in winemaking, but the 2015 Clone 76 gives some indication, as it is made in a style that is much less reductive than has been the case in the past. The Pinots (except the Indigène) and the Syrahs are made with a high percentage of whole clusters and are aged in neutral oak. (JR)  (6/2016)

90 points Wine Enthusiast

 Made in a more reductive style, this bottling conveys a tremendously intriguing sense of yogurt and Brie cheese rind on the nose, with orange rind, guava skin, green pear, tuberose and graphite notes. The palate grips with a pear skin and limezest tang, and that dairy note holds strong.  (12/2016)

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 I found the 2014 Chardonnay Estate (aged eight months in neutral oak) surprisingly simple and forward, with medium-bodied notes of stone fruits, dried herbs and buttered apples. It should be enjoyed over the coming couple of years. (JD)  (8/2016)

K&L Notes

Planted to sandy soils on the west side of the Melville estate, where coastal winds keep temperatures cool, this Chardonnay is suave and sophisticated. It exudes vibrancy, minerality, and intriguingly layered flavors. Winemaker's tasting notes: "Delicate brass in color, with fruit-driven aromatics of grilled pineapple, lemon zest, white peach and orange blossom springing from the glass. On the palate, notes of honey, fresh ginger and tarragon mingle with weightier impressions of sourdough bread, salted caramel and agave nectar. The wine boasts a rich and polished mouthfeel with a generous streak of acidity that anchors a chiseled and precise finish."

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Price: $24.99

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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 (%): 14