Taking a look at Chanin Wine’s website, you’re likely to notice a few things. The first might be the red “SOLD OUT” under each of the chardonnays listed in their store. If you’re surprised, you’ll quickly understand when you look at the Press tab. Gavin Chanin, winemaker and namesake, has garnered accolades from a veritable who’s who of the wine industry press and beyond. Winner of Forbes’ “30 under 30” for the Food and Wine category, one of the “Best chardonnays in the world (outside of Burgundy)” for Decanter, Winemaker of the Year winner from Food and Wine magazine—and that’s just a small selection.
Though Chanin Wine’s rise to fame has been quick after its founding a mere 10 years ago, Gavin has had a long interest in wine, having worked his way to become assistant winemaker at both Au Bon Climat and Qupé. In his winemaking, Chanin can count among his fans not only the winedrinking public, but fellow winemakers as well who are quick to praise his uniquely clear expressions of Santa Barbara terroir.
Today’s wine, the 2014 Chanin Chardonnay Los Alamos Vineyard, is one such wine. Los Alamos (Cottonwoods in Spanish) is a vineyard area which itself is one of interesting balance, being neither as hot as the Santa Ynez valley located southwards, nor as cool as the Santa Maria Valley due north. Here, the grapes are afforded the opportunity to achieve a full and concentrated ripeness, resulting in superbly rich wines. The 2014 vintage especially showcases this depth. Jeb Dunnick, critic with Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, has said “…winemaker Gavin Chanin makes incredibly balanced, elegant and pure wines that are always up with the creme de la creme in a vintage. His 2014s across the board are outstanding.” Critic Antonio Galloni also stated, “This is an especially racy, almost flamboyant wine from Gavin Chanin. The Los Alamos is usually a bit more reserved, but in 2014 it is very much on the extroverted side of things.”
In my tasting, I certainly found this to be the case. Yellow peach and fleshy tropical fruit mix with baking spice and a hint of savory nuttiness on the expressive nose that seems to fill the glass. The palate is rich, no question about it, with lots of dry extract, well-integrated oak and a lasting finish. But for every bit of creaminess and toasty marzipan you find, there’s a counterpoint of bright acidity, meyer lemon and ripe quince marmalade. Despite the exuberance of this wine, you can nonetheless see the influence of Chanin’s Burgundian sensibilities, such as the fermentation in 30% new French oak and 12 months spent sur lies which only help add to the complexity. This is, all told, a beautiful wine.
While the 2014 Chanin Chardonnay Los Alamos Vineyard may be sold out at the source, we are fortunate enough to have access to our own allocation at only $35.95. Get this bottle into your cellar while you can and enjoy!