Jim Clendenen saw the “magic” of Sanford and Benedict Vineyard 30 years ago. He has continued to make Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from this property even though ownership changed. The Terlato Family purchased the vineyard in 2007 and has upgraded the farming practices. The vineyard is as “clean “and healthy as it has ever been during its long and dysfunctional past. Past ownership was dysfunctional not the grapes themselves.
Sanford and Benedict was the first vineyard planted in the Santa Rita Hills appellation, and one of the first in all of Santa Barbara County. The success of this vineyard started a “planting boom” in this new AVA. The surrounding hillsides are now covered in grapevines.
Different from our usual Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay, we use special, custom made barrels and longer-term aging. This top-notch wine was aged in unique 350-liter barrels of the highest quality French oak coopered by François Frères. After two years barrel age, the wine was lightly processed and bottled. This is an exceptional wine from a winery that has been known for making great Chardonnay from this historical vineyard for 30 years.
Bottled in late 2019, this wine is slowly revealing the future potential. Subtle notes of peach and pear are balanced with just the right amount of oak, this is a wine of energy and restraint; in the next decade it will unwind and “open up” to greatness. Only 135 cases produced.
Score: 93 Seeing a slightly longer élevage of 20 months in new barrels, the 2017 Chardonnay 32nd Vintage Celebration Sanford & Benedict shows a racy, focused, tight style that should build nicely with bottle age. Lots of buttered citrus and orchard fruits as well as spice, toasty oak, and salty mineral-like nuances all emerge from the glass. Medium-bodied, it stays focused and precise on the palate, has good mid-palate depth, and outstanding length. Give it a year or two and enjoy over the following decade.
Wine & Spirits Magazine
Score: 92 Currently, this wine is more open and bright than its counterpart from 2018, its scent hinting at an oxidative creaminess with nutty, caramelly overtones. The flavors suggest pineapple and a hint of honey, with a persistent acidity that will carry the wine for many years to come. - PJC