The Hallowed Ground of Sanford & Benedict
We are so fortunate to work with the original, 1971, own-rooted plantings of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the famed Sanford & Benedict vineyard. By any reasonable account, this is one of the 5 most important vineyards in the new world and a little under 50 acres remain of these original old vines. Much has been written about this vineyard over the last 4 decades, but it is so meaningful to me for 2 special reasons.
When Richard Sanford planted vines in 1971, there was not another vineyard in sight. Just about everyone thought he was either crazy, or must be planting a vineyard for sparkling wine, because there was no way Pinot Noir and Chardonnay would fully ripen so close to the Pacific Ocean. 36 years later, Sashi Moorman and I undertook to plant an estate 3 miles closer to the Pacific Ocean than Sanford & Benedict, at the very edge of the appellation. Many people thought the same of us as they did of Richard those many years ago. We must be crazy! We could never have achieved what we have at Domaine de la Côte without the precedent set at Sanford & Benedict
My winemaking mentor, Jim Clendenen has purchased fruit and made wine from this same block of old vines since the 1987 vintage. He too was a pioneer in seeking out cooler growing regions, fermenting naturally and without additives, bottling without filtration, and making wines of balance and finesse to be enjoyed with food. The wines of Au Bon Climat and the guidance and generosity of Jim Clendenen have much to do with our efforts at Sandhi. Every time we bottle a new vintage from Sanford & Benedict, we hope to do the vineyard and our forbearers justice as we continue the tradition of cool-climate, balanced winemaking in the Sta. Rita Hills.
Click HERE to purchase our 2015 Sanford & Benedict bottlings.
Wine & Spirits Restaurant Poll Results!
Wine & Spirits annual ‘Restaurant Issue’ is on newsstands now. Each year, the magazine polls sommeliers, wine directors, and F&B professionals all over the country about their wine lists. For the second consecutive year Sandhi’s Santa Barbara County Chardonnay appears in the top-5 for restaurant Chardonnay brands.
New this year is the same wine’s entry into the top-10 By-The-Glass wines! These tremendous accolades are due to the strong support from our distributor partners and hundreds of sommeliers and beverage directors who choose to pour Sandhi Chardonnay By-The-Glass.
Pick up your April issue of Wine & Spirits Magazine and go have a glass of Sandhi Chardonnay!
Spotlight on Bentrock Chardonnay
“Precision, finesse, and downright deliciousness.”
No Sandhi wine elicits the sheer excitement of Bentrock. Critics, fellow winemakers, and sommeliers all single out Bentrock as their favorite Sandhi single vineyard Chardonnay. This month, we’re focusing on Bentrock Chardonnay. What makes the vineyard so special and how does that translate to your glass?
Fundamentally, Bentrock is different from all other Sandhi Chardonnay vineyards. It is different with respect to geography, geology, vine age, and the philosophical approach to planting and farming.
Bentrock sits out on the western edge of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. It is a full 3 miles closer to the Pacific Ocean than Sanford & Benedict and Mt. Carmel. This means the Chardonnay vines at Bentrock must struggle against more environmental stress factors than elsewhere. If our estate vineyards at Domaine de la Côte have a Chardonnay corollary, it is Bentrock. Being on the edge of what is possible is what produces wines that have the potential to excite the drinker.
The ancient marine soils in Bentrock are nutrient poor, causing the vines to struggle mightily. The soils are weathered shale and diatomaceous earth. These are the elements that imbue Bentrock Chardonnay with its nerve and mineral streak. These soils are also basic (on the pH scale) and result in fruit with very high levels of natural acidity.
Vine Age and Vine Density
Bentrock was planted in 2007, the same year as our Domaine de la Côte estate. Both planted at high vine densities of 4,000-7,000 vines to the acre, this close planting promotes competition and natural concentration, but it also allows the vines to protect each other from the constant winds that batter the vineyard throughout the day.
Despite the relative youth of the vines, the density, meager soils, and harsh conditions all conspire to produce a taut, complex, and exciting expression of Chardonnay!
Friends of Friends
While visiting Champagne I was floored to see winemaker Dan Petroski’s Instagram post from his tasting group in Napa. Dan drinks a LOT of great wine and he makes a LOT of great wine!
He organized a side-by-side blind vertical tasting of our Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay alongside my mentor Jean-Marc Roulot’s Meix Chavaux Chardonnay. Dan’s Massican wines are inspiring examples of what food-friendly and age-worthy Italian white varieties can be. Both Massican and Sandhi began with the 2009 vintage!
His efforts at the historic Larkmead Vineyards demonstrate what benchmark, old-vine, Napa Cabernet can be at its very best.
Triangle Wine Experience
Chef Ashley Christensen is one of the all-time greats as far as I’m concerned. She’s played a pivotal role in raising the bar for food, wine, and service in Raleigh, NC. Ashley introduced me to the Triangle Wine Experience and to the wonderful organization it supports, The Frankie Lemmon School. I’m excited to return to Raleigh this weekend and pour at a few events as part of the 2018 Triangle Wine Experience.
If you’re in the trade, come see me at the Trade Tasting.
Friday, February 2nd
1732 Capital Blvd.
I’ll be pouring for consumers at one of my favorite wine shops. Come see me at The Raleigh Wine Shop
Friday, February 2nd
The Raleigh Wine Shop
126 Glenwood Ave.
The Sandhi Library – 750ml & 375ml Edition
We closed out 2017 with a 1.5L format offering from our extensive cellar. What better way to usher in the new year than with the 750ml and 375ml formats from the library.
The Sandhi Library – Magnum Edition
I’ve spent the better part of 2017 revisiting our early vintages and have been so excited at the development of the wines, especially from our first few years. The wines from 2009 through 2013 are aging gracefully, showing vintage variation, and continue to express the inherent character of their vineyard origins.
We’re opening up the library to offer all of our magnum or 1.5L bottlings.
We try to make saying “thank you” a daily ritual. There are so many hands that bring a Sandhi bottle to your glass and so many dear friends and colleagues who tell the story of Sandhi all year long. To all our wine club members, customers, distributor partners, and to all the sommeliers and wine shop owners who make what we do possible, thank you, thank you, thank you.
The Story Behind Anika Syrah
If you follow me on Instagram, it’s no secret I have a deep and abiding affinity for the wines of the northern Rhône valley. Syrah’s birthplace, the red wines from this region have always held a special place in my heart and on my wine lists.
In my curiosity, I wondered if it was possible to produce whole cluster Syrah without sulfur in California in the same way my hero, Thierry Allemand does in his appellation of Cornas. With the help of Sashi Moorman, Peter Stolpman, and Ruben Solorzano, I think we were able to achieve a Syrah of tremendous drinkability in the style of Allemand.
Click HERE to read the full story of how we brought this experiment to life.
The 2014 vintage of ANIKA is SOLD OUT
The Story Behind the Bubbles
It’s been a long time coming, but we’ve finally done a proper deep dive on our 2012 Sandhi Sparkling Rosé Brut Nature.
To read more about my collaboration with Alexandre Chartogne and Michael Cruse and how we brought this 5-year experiment to life, click HERE. We only disgorged 1,000 bottles and already have less than 100 left! I hope you enjoy the story and the wine.
To purchase your bottle, click here.