2005 Three Saints Chardonnay
Our Chardonnay vineyard is situated atop a sandy loam mesa above
the South Bank of the Santa Maria River. The ranch features a series
gently rolling hills and soils that are uncharacteristic of the growing
area. Small knolls of sand at the eastern end of Block One contribute
freshness and raciness to the wines; while hidden lenses of loamy clay
scattered towards the western edge seem to produce wines with more
power and structure.We like to think of our vineyard as a little corner
of Burgundy in Santa Maria.
Wines from our vineyard—both our own and those from producers
who purchase our fruit—show wonderful, brisk acidity and bright citrus
layered with rich hazelnut tones. Phenomenal wines for immediate
enjoyment with rich seafood dishes and even light meat courses.
2005 was a breakthrough vintage for the Central Coast—and Santa
Barbara County in particular. Record setting winter rains—over 35
inches in Santa Maria as opposed to our more typical eleven inches—
flushed out the salt accumulated in the soil and cleansed any residual
metals and nitrogen built up from the previous drought years.
Needless to say, we started the growing season at what we call “field
capacity,” meaning that the soil profile was fully saturated with as
much water as it would hold. Mild spring conditions favored an even
bud break and warm, dry weather in the early summer— without our
typical blustery winds—allowed for an amazing set. Our Chardonnay
naturally set an admirable 3.5 tons per acre and, in two passes, we
thinned the crop to just below 3 tons per acre, which seemed to be
ideal to balance healthy vine growth.There were no remarkable hot or
cold spells and harvest proceeded in a smooth, orderly fashion yielding
good ripe flavors and remarkable acidity.
The winemaking techniques employed for our Chardonnays closely
resemble those used for centuries in Burgundy. Cold fruit is “whole
cluster” pressed and the resulting juice is settled briefly at cellar temperature.
We like to keep as many solids as possible in contact with
the juice, causing us to only remove the very heaviest of the lees—
essentially what dust from the vineyard comes into the winery on the
The juice is transferred to barrel unsulfered and uninoculated and
allowed to begin fermentation on its own yeast. Occasionally, commercial
yeast is added to certain lots two thirds of the way through
fermentation as an insurance policy against stuck fermentations (when
the yeast is unable to convert all the sugar in the wine to alcohol). For
those lots that are allowed to finish fermentation naturally, a small
amount of yeast nutrient is added at one third of the way through fermentation.
The wine goes through malolactic fermentation on its
own, usually dragging well into the spring, and it is stirred bi-weekly.
During the winter, after 15 months in barrel, the finished wine is
racked from its lees, lightly fined with bentonite, isinglass and skim
milk and is bottled unfiltered.
Our Three Saints Chardonnay is characterized by its strong impression
of acidity and by a finish that lingers on the palate. Striking
papaya, grapefruit and lemon oil aromas are balanced with a creamy
hazelnut impression. On the palate the wine is all citrus: lemon rind,
lemon curd and lemon blossoms.With its bright but lushly textured
mouthfeel, the 2005Three Saints Chardonnay drinks deliciously now
and should evolve for three years in bottle.
Composition: 100% Chardonnay
Appellation: Santa MariaValley
Total Acid: 9.2 g/L
Production: 4317 cases