Bien Nacido Vineyard
- WINE ENTHUSIAST: CALIFORNIA'S GRAND CRU CHARDONNAYS: "The greatest Chardonnay vineyardsof Burgundy ? Montrachet and Corton-Charlemagne, to name two ? bask in near universal acclaim from the world's wine collectors. For centuries, winemakers have coveted the fruit from these grand crus, which are concentrated within walking distance oft he town of Beaune.
In California, winemakers also have identified their top sites for Chardonnay-vineyards that make wonderful, distinctive and sometimes ageworthy wines year after year. But unlike Burgundy, these prized plots are scattered along more than 300 miles, from northers Sonoma County to Santa Barbara.
Many are just two or three decades old, but a few go back tot he 1960seast one dates to pre-Prohobition. Our California reviewers give their picks oft he state's grand cru Chardonnay vineyards and call out the producers making wines from them.
Bien Nacido Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley
Planted in 1973 by the Miller familiy, this sprawling, nearly 900-acre vineyard, about one-third Chardonnay, spills out of a north-south canyon onto the east-west benchlands that rise above the Santa Maria River.
"We feel that the classic BNV Chardonnay character ist most truly expressed from the bench", says Vineyard Manager Chris Hammell, who credits its gravelly, alluvial soils. Hammell says the 100 acres of own-rooted Chardonnay are particularly coveted.
"The reasons for this are a graet terroir, our client's winemaking skill and promotion of the vineyard, and the owners' unwavering commitment to the brand and the land.""
- WALL STREET JOURNAL: THE FIVE CALIFORNIA VINEYARDS YOU NEED TO KNOW:
"Bien Nacido Vineyard | Santa Barbara
At nearly 900 acres, Bien Nacido in the Santa Maria Valley of Santa Barbara is a great vineyard upersized. The cool, sprawling place features both hillsides and flatter ground and 15 different rape varieties, although its Syrah, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the most renowned. The Miller family bought Bien Nacido in 1969, and the Millers have made improvements over the years. Its grapes are the basis of hundreds of notable wines, and a short list of their names reads like a roll call of Santa Barbara greats: Au Bon Climat, Qupé, Foxen, Sine Qua Non and Hitching Post, as well as newer stars such as Chanin, Longoria and Paul Lato. Some 35 producers turn out vineyard-designate wines, but as Nicholas Miller noted, about two thirds of the grapes purchased do not go into a wine with the vineyard name. (Every Bien Nacido-designated wine is tasted by the Millers to make sure it meets their standards; occasionally they?ve had to tell a producer it couldn?t put the Bien Nacido name on its label.)
Bob Lindquist, of Qupé Vineyards, was one of the first producers to make a Bien Nacido wine, a 1987 Syrah. Mr. Lindquist said the vineyard is notable for its cool climate as well as its location and poor soil. ?The grapes have to struggle a bit,? said Mr. Lindquist. (Grapes have more character and complexity if they struggle.) Gavin Chanin, of Chanin Wine Company, credited the vineyard?s management and viticulture. ?Bien Nacido is at the forefront of farming in Santa Barbara,? he said. Mr. Chanin makes Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the vineyard, and the 2012 Chanin Wine Company Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay ($35) shows the quality of the vineyard: full bodied and rich, with a firm mineral thread."