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The Poppy Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2017 is sourced from Poppy’s Highland vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands sub-AVA inside the Monterey AVA, which is inside the Central Coast AVA of California. The Santa Lucia Highlands is exactly what the name suggests; it is located in the foothills of the Santa Lucia coastal mountains.
This is a cool-weather growing region that specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Cold winds from Monterey Bay are funneled into the 18-mile long area where the vineyards are planted. Big Sur is just off the coast, so this area is beautiful and an ideal location for wine grapes.
The tasting notes that Pops provides for the Poppy Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2017 are a marvel; they explain in uncomplicated detail how Poppy made this wine. The Chardonnay grapes were not all picked at the same time. They waited for the grapes to reach a specific level of ripeness. The harvest occurred between September 19th to the 26th and then again on October 4th thru the 10th.
The grapes all came from a single vineyard, but they would have real differences. The winemaking team then fermented the grapes with three different production methods. The first style was a cold temperature fermentation in stainless steel vats. The cold temps slow the fermentation process and allow for full extraction and fermentation.
The second method of fermentation took place in small oak barrels. The fermentation temperature was warm, and the Chardonnay underwent Malolactic fermentation and “on lees” aging. This allows the wine to have oak influence and flavors, with the malolactic changing the acid from tart to rounded. The “on lees” adds a salty, nutty sensation.
The third technique occurred in stainless steel tanks with oak barrel slats added in. The fermentation temperature was in the middle between the cool and the warm temps of methods one and two. They did malolactic fermentation but did not allow it to complete, stopping halfway thru. The Chardonnay was aged “on lees’, this time, the lees were stirred (battonage), which gives the wine a creamy texture.
The Poppy Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2017 is the product of a great deal of thought and effort. Not all wines have this complex of production, but this is an example of just what it takes for a winemaker to make the desired bottle of wine.
The Poppy Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2017 then all the diverse elements blended; 80% of the finished wine came from production methods 2 and 3. Almost all wines are blends in some way. Here we have a single vineyard, 100% Chardonnay wine, and the final blending of all the production elements is huge in the final product.
So, the Poppy Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2017 is a little unoaked Chardonnay, a little barrel-aged Chard, partial Malolactic fermentation, with 2 types of on-lees aging. All for a wine that I found for around $12. The alcohol content is 13.8%.
Poppy Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2017 Tasting Notes
The color is a pale butter yellow. The nose is lemon, spiced apple, vanilla, melon, caramel, spice, pear, and a light floral edge. The Poppy Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2017 has a unique flavor profile; a lot will happen on your palate.
It starts with rounded lemon curd, coconut cream (not sweet), tart apple, exotic spice, and peach. The mid-palate adds some buttercream (again, not sweet), Anjou pear, guava, orange zest, and that salty, nutty “on-lees” sensation.
This wine has some weight, not too heavy, but these a wine of substance. I had the bottle in the refrigerator all day; then my glass started fairly cold. The flavors of the Poppy Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2017 really started to develop after the wine warmed up, so do not drink this wine at too cool of a temperature.
- The Poppy Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay 2017 is a fascinating, delicious wine with advanced vineyard and winemaking techniques that make it a bargain wine. This is a lot of wine for the money.