2018 Ojai Vineyard Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard

Year: 2018
Appellation: Santa Barbara County
Country: USA-California
Vinous Media: 94
Jeb Dunnuck: 93
White Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 13.0%
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"The 2018 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard is such a classic wine from this site. Nuanced, translucent and yet so full of flavor, the 2018 dazzles from start to finish. There is a level of detail and nuance to the 2018 that is just remarkable. Scents of tangerine oil, mint, dried flowers and apricot envelop the palate as this gracious, alluring Chardonnay gradually opens in the glass. The 2018 has a bit more new oak than has been the case in the recent past. I love the precision here. In a word: sublime." (VM)

"Leading off the three single vineyard Chardonnays, the 2018 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard is a larger production cuvée by this estate’s standards and there are 877 cases produced. Ojai has worked with Bien Nacido for years and pulls from some top sections of this vineyard, and the wine is aged in roughly 10% new French oak. Notes of tart apple, toasted bread, and salty, marine-influenced minerality all give way to an elegant, medium-bodied, beautifully balanced Chardonnay. It's a prettier, more elegant example of Chardonnay from this vineyard (which normally produces a more burly style of wine), yet it has the classic salinity of this cooler site. Drink it any time over the coming decade.

I continue to love the wines from Adam Tolmach and Fabien Castel. These lean firmly toward the fresher, elegant end of the spectrum, yet I always find the wines to have wonderful depth of fruit, terrific balance, and singular characters." (JD)

Winery Notes:
You can always count on Bien Nacido Chardonnay having loads to show about a vintage. In 2018 it felt as if time had rewound back to the ‘00s. Winter was cold and provided generous rainfall. Then the transition to Spring was cold and wet also, so the vines got started late. Then predominately mild weather throughout Summer and Fall made for harvest dates about a month later than the previous few years.

This 2018 manifests all that cooler weather with a more serious, earthy kind of expression. Especially when compared to the flirtier and slightly tropical profile of the 2017. This wine ups the gravitas with a kind of flinty minerality girdling the wine’s powerful fruit. Stepping entirely away from tropical fruit, the profile here speaks to temperate coastal orchards. More apple and pear, accented by scents of fresh flowers and that curious bee pollen note we sometimes get here.

It’s fairly in step with the 2016, or perhaps even the 2010. There’s a strong, Chablisienne tension to the wine, which almost creaks in the mouth as the minerally structure shifts shape. A nice wash of lemon curd brings weight and resolves the wine’s tension, while minerals and toasty lees surge into the fresh and saline finish.

That’s all great for earlier drinking if you’re a fan of more acid-driven white Burgundy, in which case you won’t regret cracking this soon. It will continue to develop for several years though, and will relax and flesh out into a creamier flow by 2022. Have it your way.