California Holy Ground: 2011 Tyler Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

Posted by Ian McFadden

California Holy Ground
2011 Tyler Sanford & Benedict
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

"These wines stand out for their delicacy and site-specific personalities" -Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media

We don't offer California wine very often, but these wines demanded it.

At a recent staff tasting we opened a bottle of the Sanford & Benedict '11 Chardonnay and the entire staff was very impressed. Generally, it's really difficult to get the Crush staff into New World wines, but everyone was clearly impressed by this wine. Stated another way, these are eye-opening, shocking wines.

We've been huge fans of Tyler's entire line-up. There's a purity and a finely-tuned balance to the wines that we love. Even within this line-up, the Sanford and Benedict Chardonnay and Pinot Noir steal the show.

The Sanford & Benedict vineyard is holy ground for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In 1971 Richard Sanford, trained geologist, and Michael Benedict planted the vineyard. Their first releases in the late seventies became legends. Last spring, I tasted a '77 that was still very much alive and compelling.

Richard Sanford carefully selected this site in the Santa Rita Hills based on its cool temperatures and its complex soils of shale-heavy clay loam soils with a sprinkling of quartz. His wisdom has been further substantiated over the years. The majority of the area's top vineyards are clustered around the Sanford & Benedict vineyard.

Tyler does a very impressive job capturing the inherent greatness of the site. As Galloni mentioned in the quote above, Tyler has an uncanny ability to capture the specific vineyard with acute clarity.

When it comes to their Sanford & Benedict vineyard, there's a pristine elegance to the wines that we love. Antonio Galloni says the '11 Chardonnay possesses "more than a hint of Meursault-like finesse." This really starts to get to the heart of the matter.

The '11 Pinot shows a level of energy, aromation and focused harmony that we rarely, if ever, see in California Pinot Noir. Galloni calls it "a weightless, gracious wine." You almost never see California Pinot described in such terms, but they are dead-on when it comes to Tyler''s 2011 Sanford & Benedict Pinot.

The 2011 vintage was a very cool one and for our palates, the growers that worked hard made some gorgeous wines. They have a beautiful nimbleness and tension.

What makes us so excited about the Tyler Sanford & Benedict wines is how much finese and clarity they boast. These are really beautiful examples of just how exciting, how elegant California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir can be.

To order, reply to or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Ian McFadden
Director, Fine & Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits

Antonio Galloni: "The 2011 Chardonnay Sanford & Benedict is the most delicate and ethereal of the Chardonnays. Sweet floral notes meld into peach, pear and spice notes in a Chardonnay with more than a hint of Meursault-like finesse. The style is one of textural elegance and grace. This parcel was planted with own-rooted vines in 1971."

Antonio Galloni: "A weightless, gracious wine, the 2011 Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict wafts from the glass with gorgeous inner perfume and silkiness. The lightest of these 2011 Pinots, the Sanford & Benedict stands out for its overall sense of balance and proportion. Sweet red berries, crushed flowers, spices and mint are all woven into the pretty, nuanced finish. The 2011 is a wine of pure delicacy. As such, I would prefer to drink it sooner rather than later."