Fingers Crossed White 2020
|California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara
Tasted out of bottle and mostly from Bien Nacido (the 2021 is mostly Sanford & Benedict), the 2020 Held Head High White checks in as 80% Chardonnay, 12% Roussanne, and 8% Marsanne. It has a beautiful salty, mineral-driven style as well as ample stone fruits, medium to full body, a focused, chiseled, yet concentrated mouthfeel, and awesome length on the finish. It's a singular, layered, remarkably complete white that will evolve for a decade.
The Chardonnay-based Head Held High cuvée comes mostly from the Bien Nacido Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley, with the balance from the Sanford & Benedict Vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills. It's a wine that feels predestined, having withstood the challenges of heat and wildfire smoke but also because this blend represents the last of the old-vine Chardonnay planted at Bien Nacido, as the vines were torn out after this vintage. "This is the last Chardonnay ever made from W block," proprietors Nikolas and Julia Krankl explain, sounding both grateful and rueful. "We got to work with it once." Luckily, the Krankls will continue to work with the new Chardonnay vines that will be planted at Bien Nacido. Their section will comprise six rows, planted to six different clonal selections.
The Wine Independent
“We love making white wine,” said winemaker/owner Nik Krankl. “There is an abundance of really good Chardonnay. We want to make the best, and this is the best grape for this area. Going forward, this grape will lead the charge.” The sad news is that the section of Bien Nacido Vineyard’s old vine Chardonnay that was used to make this Chardonnay was torn out after this harvest. But, considering Nik’s eye for outstanding Chardonnay, skillful hand with this grape, and visionary blending, I’m not expecting a drop in quality.