Donnachadh Chardonnay

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 logo and name soil1024 1

Donnachadh Chardonnay – Organic

Donnachadh name, pronounced Donna-ka, is the Gallic form of proprietors’ last name. It’s an old version of Duncan. The Duncan Clan has a rich history marked by the spirit of adventure and venture. Generations ago, its ancestors made the long journey from Scotland to America in pursuit of a new life. The Duncan family crest on the wine label illustrates the true nature of such a journey, depicting a demasted ship surrounded by waves. The crest captures the maritime influence that would last for generations to come, as well as the values of hard work and integrity that continue to shape the identity of the Clan to this day.

Drew and Laurie Duncan searched almost a decade for the perfect cool climate site to grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir before finally discovering Donnachadh Vineyard.  Organically farmed in the heart of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, the property was planted to vine by the Duncans in 2013.  Santa Barbara Winemaker Ernst Storm is at the helm for winemaking at Donnachadh.  Having hailed from the Western Cape of South Africa, his experience making balanced wines from cool climate grapes has served him well in the Sta. Rita Hills.  Ernst believes that the diverse soils and microclimates within Santa Barbara County make it a region with endless potential.

Donnachadh Vineyard has special characteristics that inspired the Duncans to lay roots there: its north-facing slope shields the grapes from too much direct sunlight and is quite steep while lying at a higher elevation. The property is perfectly situated in a corridor that carries the ocean breeze inland, cooling the grapes in the morning and evening and preventing heat from building up during the day.  Overall, the hillside environment is quite challenging for the vines, which limits yields and produces grapes of exceptional character.  Laurie has a PhD in Geology, so soil composition was important when choosing this site—their vineyard is unique in that it offers several different soil types (predominantly clay, with marine shale deposits) which contribute to Donnachadh’s elegant wines of purity, energy, and warmth.

Inspired by the wines of Burgundy and the Northern Rhone, Donnachadh strives to make wines that recognize the uniqueness of their vineyard site. The cool climate and ocean breeze allow the grapes to ripen more slowly, developing rich, complex flavors while still retaining bright natural acidity.

Family-owned and organically farmed, Donnachadh Vineyard is located on Santa Rosa Road, in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA of Santa Barbara County. The property is 285 acres with approximately 40 acres under vine. We grow Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah and a little bit of Gamay Noir.

The climate of the Santa Rita Hills is dominated by the Pacific Ocean, which lies about 9 miles from the vineyard. Morning fog cools the grapes and consistent afternoon ocean breezes keep heat from building up over the course of the day.

The vineyard consists of two main parts: the hillside blocks, and the riverside blocks. The riverside blocks sit alongside the Santa Ynez River. They are more sheltered from the wind than the hillside blocks and the soil is a delicate and well-drained sandy loam that sits on top of deep layers of gravel river deposits. The hillside blocks are more exposed to the ocean winds. The soil there is derived from marine shale deposits and features more clay, rocks, and cobbles than the riverside blocks. Overall, the hillside environment is quite challenging for the vines, limiting yields and producing grapes of exceptional character.

Mineral driven, delicate, and crystalline. Lemon zest, brioche, and struck flint on the nose. Mouthwatering acidity with oyster-shell minerality on the palate of Meyer lemon and pear with a drop of candied lemon and sea salt on the finish. This Chardonnay really captures in the glass the tension we see between cool air and warm sun.  Meyer lemon, crisp jicama, light mint, and chipped oak aromas show on the very exciting and inviting nose. The light kiss of oak on the palate frames yuzu zest, chamomile, and crushed sea-shell flavors. It has weight and creaminess on the palate, but balanced with bright and lingering acidity.

93 Wine Enthusiast  Citrus pith, light yogurt, soft nectarine and crisp jicama aromas arise on the very subtle nose of this bottling. The palate’s texture is anything but subtle, though, gripping with wet chalk tension and flavors, as well as tightly wound flashes of lime and more of that dairy tartness.


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