Sixto Uncovered Chardonnay Frenchman Hill 2014
|Region||United States, Washington, Columbia Valley|
2014 had an early spring and a wonderful, long summer with cool nights to help maintain great acidity in the grapes. Going into the Fall, temperatures cooled down quite a bit throughout the state, and we were able to hang the fruit for a long period of time before harvest. This combination allowed us to develop more complex flavors, while still maintaining the acidity to produce bright, focused wines.
Frenchman Hills (100%): Frenchman Hills was planted in 1998 and is about a 30-minute drive north of the Wahluke Slope, which is one of the warmest areas in the Columbia Valley. However, Frenchman Hills Vineyard is a cooler site, partly because of its higher elevation at 1650 feet. It also does not easily frost, and the limestone and broken basalt soils at the top of the vineyard were not affected by the Missoula Flood that ravaged much of Eastern Washington some 12,000 years ago. Because of the slightly cooler aspect, grapes hang longer without accumulating excessive sugar (and thus, higher alcohols) while still managing to retain beautiful acidity.
This wine is a blend of fruit from Frenchman Hills (33%), Moxee (28%), Roza Hills (27%) and Evergreen vineyards. The aromas show a lot of subtlety, with notes of candied ginger, lemon curd, spice, peach, cream, toast, wet stone and pineapple, revealing more on each swirl. The palate is rich but refined, showing precision and detail along with a real sense of freshness. The finish impresses. Beautiful stuff.
A blend of all three of the single vineyards, the 2014 Chardonnay Uncovered is every bit as good as the single vineyards. Apple, white flowers, brioche and toasted nut characteristics flow to a rich, textured, sexy Chardonnay that's just a straight up joy to drink. The 2012s from this estate are still fresh and vibrant, so I suspect these will all have a solid 4- to 5-year drink window, if not longer. There's roughly 1,200 cases of this killer Chardonnay, and readers owe it to themselves to give one of these a try.
(this cuvée is a blend from Sixto's three single vineyards but is done without any new oak): Full golden-yellow. Exotic apricot, ripe peach and honey on the nose. In a distinctly fat, plump style; very ripe but not exotic, offering plush stone fruit flavors. I would have guessed this wine had some noble rot, but I was told it doesn't. I'd nonetheless enjoy it over the next couple years.