My thirst for the balance, structure, and overall mystique of white Burgundy is no secret. While California and Oregon are crafting Chardonnay today that resemble more and more the qualities I love about its birthplace I still find myself getting greedy. Asking to push the envelope further, desiring more cut, more definition, more discipline. There've been so many wonderful surprises in just the last couple years, butnothing could prepare me for what happened from Sandhi in 2014 from the most marginal of vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills.
Sashi Moorman and Rajat Parr established two wineries here to tap the ultimate potential of these wind-swept vines next to the Pacific. They knew that in order to render the mineral-infused and nuanced qualities they craved so much in Burgundy they would need to work with sites not only influenced by moderating temperatures, but also from the most rocky and nutrient-deficient soils.
The north-facing Bentrock vineyard lies on shale and diatomaceous soils, the sort that call to mind the chalky limestone in Meursault's higher elevation sites. This poor soil in Bentrock naturally keeps yields low, in fact the lowest in their entire range of wines, giving unparalleled concentration of fruit. These nitrogen deficient soils have an interesting effect during fermentation, and without wandering too far down this path we can say that a lack of oxygen creates a reductive style of wine. In the most deft execution in Burgundy we may call this noble reduction.
Jean-Marc Roulot's work in this style is as prized as any in Meursault, and Sashi and Raj's annual visits with him for many years (in Burgundy and Sta. Rita Hills) have left an indelible mark. While the balancing act of reduction is tricky to say the least, 2014 Bentrock marks the official arrival of hitting the proverbial nail.
This is Chardonnay at it's most captivating, it's most brilliant. The interplay between ripe, concentrated fruit and the crushed rock, seashell, and rigid mineral core is a juxtaposition that's spellbinding for the senses. Like all great dishes, wines too seem to reach their greatest heights when this sort of dichotomy is front and center.
The duo knew that Bentrock was capable of this precision, and 2014 is the vintage where everything came together. For those that find themselves craving the wines of Roulot, PYCM, Coche, and Leflaive I cannot recommend enough becoming familiar with Sandhi's brand new release of Bentrock.
2014 Sandhi Bentrock Chardonnay
$90 per bottle.