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A Double 94-Point Central Coast Chardonnay from a Winemaking Luminary - 05/28/2019 - Chardonnay (domestic)

One of the most exciting projects in California’s Central Coast has to be Greg Brewer’s Diatom. A winemaking luminary, Brewer has mastered the art of blending old-world practices with the new-world fruit of California. The result is, as William Kelley of Wine Advocate puts it, wines of “searing intensity and energy.” Brewer’s Katherine’s bottling, which is featured here, is harvested from one of the oldest Chardonnay sites in California. This pedigree is on full display with ripe and fleshy flavors of grapefruit, pineapple, mango, and so much more. A solid core of acidity and minerality keeps things bright and focused while adding to the layered complexity of the wine. Typically Katherine’s is restaurant only, but we were able to secure solid allocation and are offering it at a market-low price of $29.95. For those who adore Chardonnay with a minimalist bent, this 2017 is a must-have. Based on the strong press and super-sharp price, this is a candidate for one of the best values we have going. Don’t miss out!

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2017 Diatom "Katherine's" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay ($29.95)

94 points Jeb Dunnuck: "Coming from the Santa Maria Valley (this label is by and large focused on the Sta. Rita Hills), the 2017 Chardonnay Katherines just jumps from the glass with a perfumed, tropical bouquet of ripe citrus, spice, dried pineapple, and mango notes. Showing more and more classic salinity and oyster shell characteristics with time in the glass, its medium-bodied, has bright acidity, a layered, viscous texture, and a beautiful finish. Its going to evolve for 8-10 years at a minimum." (10/2018)

94 points Vinous: "The 2017 Chardonnay Katherine's is the most distinctive wine in this range. Crushed rocks, slate, lemon peel and graphite are some of the many notes that flesh out in an expansive, layered Chardonnay endowed with tremendous pedigree and sheer character. The Katherine's will be fascinating to follow as it develops in bottle. Even today, though, it is a true standout. (AG)" (09/2018)

92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "While Diatom was formerly wedded to sites in the Sta. Rita Hills, Brewer-Clifton produced a Chardonnay from Katherine's Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley (neighboring Bien Nacido) in the 1999 vintage, so in a sense this cuvée represents a return to old haunts. At 445 cases, the 2017 Chardonnay Katherine's is also by some margin Diatom's largest bottling this vintage. Notes of peach, grapefruit, pastry cream and lime cordial precede a medium-bodied, glossy, saline, acid-driven wine with beautiful purity and concentration.The Diatom wines were bottled only nine days before I tasted them, but they were remarkably open for inspection. Greg Brewer continues to produce these minimalist wines, fermented and matured in stainless steel with blocked malolactic fermentation, which foreground differences between specific vineyards, in turn amplified by different clonal selections of Chardonnay. What they share is searing intensity and energy. None of these are large cuvées, but admirers of this style will find the 2017 vintage well worth pursuit. (WK)" (04/2017)

K&L Notes: Winemaker's Notes: "Sourced from forty-eight-year-old, self-rooted vines in the north west corner of Cambria’s Santa Maria Estate. The 2017 Katherine’s parcel is rooted in gravelly loam soils heavily influenced by the pronounced maritime influence of the nearby Pacific. In the cellar the fermentation is completed at a very low temperature in small stainless-steel tanks, coupled with inhibited malo-lactic and short hose transit ensure precision and focus. Diatom is motivated by the pursuit of subtraction and refinement. It is the polishing of a grain of rice until one has reached its ultimate inner core. Our Sta. Rita Hills marine landscape is stark and so are the wines of its provenance. We strive for a recognition of place with as little disturbance, distraction or interference as possible. The resulting wines have a sense of transparency and a purity of intent and purpose."

Staff ImageStephanie Vidales | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: May 03, 2019

This is not your typical California Chardonnay. Focused with minerality and bright acid, Diatom truly shows its terroir of gravely soils, old vines and maritime climate. There is generous citrus and tropical character on the nose intertwined with subtle spice. On the palate the fruit is ripe, but with incredible salinity and wet rock to offer balance. This is a serious wine that would pair great with fresh seafood and light dishes.

Staff ImageRobert Cash | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: May 01, 2019

This is an extraordinarily elegant, focused Chardonnay of grace and structure. The marine influence on the vineyards is subtly present on the nose as well as the palate. The nose offers up a plethora of citrus and tropical fruit aromas that seem endless. With no oak and no malo in the way, the quality of fruit and winemaking skill shines forth with minerality and a great acid structure. Medium bodied on the palate with a generous mouthfeel and long finish. This is a wine of tremendous quality!

Staff ImageRyan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: April 30, 2019

An absolutely stunning, pure, refined, Chardonnay. This perfectly illustrates just how compelling California Chardonnay can be with all the wine making artifact peeled away. Greg Brewer's Diatom project aims to reduce any outside factor's impact on the expression of the vineyard site. The wine is fermented entirely in stainless steel, no malo, very minimal intervention. He simply wants to capture the sense of place conveyed by these 48 year old own-rooted vines. And capture it he has! Intense stony minerality, racy acidity, juicy citrus fruits, weight and texture cling to this focused and linear style. It has incredible length and persistence on the palate. Reminds me very much of fine Chablis with it's almost incomprehensible combination of weightlessness and power, intensity and precision. One of the best value white wines in the store.