Chardonnay, ‘Bentrock’, Sandhi
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!
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