Terroir Lover’s Chardonnay From the Sta. Rita Hills

Today’s Story: Liquid Farm

Liquid Farm is a Chardonnay-focused winery established in 2009 in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA of Santa Barbara County, California. Founded by Jeff and Nikki Nelson, Liquid Farm started with four barrels of wine and the dream to produce Old World style Chardonnay while supporting local viticulture. Two of these first four barrels showcased a more mineral-driven profile that reminded Jeff and Nikki of Chablis so they named it White Hill after the white chalky hills of Chablis. The other two barrels showcased warmer tones and fuller profiles reminiscent of Meursault, so they named that wine Golden Slope after the Côte d’Or. Though Liquid Farm expanded their portfolio over time, they still focus on four Chardonnay bottlings as well as a rosé and small amounts of Pinot Noir.

Sticking to their love of Old World wines, the winemaking philosophy at Liquid Farm is rather traditional. Under the guide of winemaker James Sparks, winemaking follows the path of minimal intervention from manual harvest through to native yeast fermentation and aging in neutral oak barrels. The team makes no machine adjustments or additions to the wine in order to preserve a sense of place and true-to-variety profile, ultimately even letting the wines go through malolactic fermentation naturally. Given the cool climate of Sta. Rita Hills, these wines are often bottled with higher natural acidity and lower alcohol which makes them perfect table wines for anyone who appreciates the style and an expression of terroir.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Golden Slope Chardonnay

100% Chardonnay; 13.5% ABV

The 2016 Golden Slope Chardonnay is medium gold in color. After about 45 minutes in the glass, this really opened up and showed nicely. The aromas are of pronounced intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of crisp yellow apple, lemon zest, tropical citrus, honeysuckle, flint, wet river stone, almond, freshly-baked bread, and smoke. Meanwhile the flavors are also of pronounced intensity and the palate displays notes of pear, quince, lemon and lime zest, dried pineapple, brioche, toasted almond, vanilla, and a hint of mineral. This dry white is medium- to full-bodied with high acidity, medium alcohol, and a long finish. This strikes a very solid balance between Old and New World, with an Old World tilt.

Price: $47. I think this fits somewhere between the fairly-priced and value distinctions, as it is certainly very high quality and offers great intensity and complexity. There’s just enough California fruit to this where I can’t quite equate it with white Burgundy, but it is pretty darn close which I enjoy with my domestic Chardonnay.

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