If there is one truth that fifteen years of retail wine experience has embedded in my brain, it is this. "No one knows a wine shop better than the person who put it together." Possessing an 'above average' knowledge about wine has made me more likely to ask for help. Not less.
And it introduced me to a stunning wine and producer that I'd never experienced. Special thanks to the young lady working at Soif Wine Merchants in Santa Cruz who turned a simple request into a gem. I asked for "a white wine from Santa Cruz that you find exciting" and she gave me Ceritas.
Ceritas 2013 Chardonnay 'Peter Michael Ray Vineyard.' $63 Retail
Rated 96/100 Points. A+
This wine is a stunner. One of the best American Chardonnays I've ever tasted. Rich, but never cloying. Fresh, but never sharp. Pure and pretty. Reminds one of a great Grand Cru Meursault, except I don't think there is Grand Cru Meursault. But if there was, it would taste like this. There is supreme balance here and wonderful food friendliness that isn't required, but recommended. A White Burgundy that tasted this good would be $200+.
Obviously recommended in the strongest possible terms. Even worth buying for the "Anything But Chardonnay" crowd if they enjoy great White Burgundy.
A little about Ceritas and the Peter Michael Ray Vineyard.
I don't know a lot about this winery yet, but I'm certainly going to investigate. They seem to be one of the 'good guys.' They seem to follow traditionalist winemaking techniques and subscribe to the idea that the role of wine is to express the terroir of a particular site. However, Ceritas also seems flexible enough to incorporate moderntechniques if that becomes necessary. They source fruit from the Santa Cruz Mountains, Sonoma Coast, and Anderson Valley - all cool climate sites.
The Peter Michael Ray Vineyard is a historic vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. The elevation is 1,800 feet and the original planting were in 1943. The current Chardonnay vines were planted by Peter Michael Ray in the early 1980s with the Mount Eden clone.
I'll quote a section from the Ceritas website to describe the character of the fruit. "What makes this fruit so remarkable is a direct result of the vines’ constant struggle: raw farmed with minimal manmade input; the vines are constantly seeking water, nutrients and sustenance from deep in the hillside. Characterized by small berries on tiny clusters, this fruit yields wine that is distinctive for its salty, mineral palate, persistent flavors and lingering finish."
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FTC Disclosure: I purchased this wine at full retail price. I have no business relationship with Ceritas.