Appellation: Santa Lucia Highlands
Varietal: Chardonnay

  Profile #1
Appearance Surprisingly pale in youth.
Aroma It is difficult to describe the allure of these Chardonnays, but you instantly recognise their classiness. Complex, elusive aromatics found nowhere else can be summed up in one word: rum! One finds molasses, citrus peel, ginger, jasmine and fig, usually accompanied by well integrated oak.
Flavor Flavors of ginger, fig and orange peel. Austere and reserved, hollow and dry, with racy acidity and a self-assured but delicately framed structure.
Balance Unlike the valley floor, there is no natural sweetness, and the ethereal dryness renders these wines vulnerable to an alcohol hotness. Lean intensity, delicate, powerful presence, sometimes with some heat but finishing with a mineral intensity which somehow marries delicacy and power.
Oenological One or two years in barrel is essential to development, and normally the proportion of new wood is kept low, not out of frugality but in deference to the regal but shy aromatics. Malolactic is likewise kept in the background.
Viticultural Uneven terrain does not lend itself to factory farming as on the valley foor. Individual attention to hand-tended vines adds to bottle price but pays dividends in quality.
Terroir A raised escarpment underlain with shale. Still subject to daily winds, it is nevertheless completely distinct from the Monterey AVA valley floor to the east. The further south one plants along the 15 mile strip, the warmer and more sheltered are its vineyards, and thus the riper and less acidic are the wines, but some of the best are made in the north, which has better access to hand labor.