La Clarine Farm / Chardonnay Sierra Foothills 2018 / 750mL
Geography: California, United States
Appellation: Sierra Foothills
Alcohol by volume: 12.0%
Founded in 2001, La Clarine Farm has been farmed with totally biodynamic principles and was even certified for a while. Most recently, though, Beckmeyer has moved on to an even more do-nothing approach described by Japanese philosopher-farmer Manosoba Fukuoka. It still encompasses the ideas of biodynamic farming but without the belief that farmers need to always ‘do’ things to make the plants grow. With production rarely exceeding 70 cases of any one wine, La Clarine Farms is a testament to the surprises you can find in wines simply marked ‘domestic’.
The limestone-rich Rorick Heritage Vineyard has an interesting assemblage of grape varieties scattered around the property, and when I expressed my interest in maybe trying out some Chardonnay, Matthew Rorick immediately recommended I go with “Block 33”. So I did.
The grapes were whole cluster pressed into flextanks for spontaneous fermentation (both primary and malo), and the wine was bottled directly from the lees in late July of 2019. The goal was to make a straight forward, not-messed-with Chardonnay (no lees stirring, no fancy oak barrels, no designer yeasts...just Chard). Turns out that straight forward Chard from the Foothills is really delicious.
A rich yellow-gold-green color leads to...hot damn! It smells of Chardonnay! But not a big, fat, buttery chard, but rather a sleek, terroir-driven chard, with floral notes and flashes of luscious fruit and minerals. Lots of minerals. That's the limestone talking. It is super bright on the finish, with delicious acidity and a very long, lingering sensation of stone and lemon zest.
65 cases made. 13.8% alcohol.