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Kessler-Haak Vineyards’ 2010 Estate Chardonnay

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a fan of chardonnay. I know it’s known as America’s Sweetheart Grape, but it’s never been my favorite. That said: There are a handful of chardonnays I will drink, and this beauty from Kessler-Haak in the Sta. Rita Hills is one of them.

This chardonnay meets my standards of no- or very-minimal oak with lots of the essence of Meyer lemon and a startlingly long finish for a chardonnay.

In 2005, Dan Kessler and Ellen Kessler-Haak planted seven pinot noir clones on 27 acres of rolling hillsides, but reserved a 2.5-acre east-facing hillside for three chardonnay clones, which were planted on low-vigor rootstock so the per-acre tonnage would remain on the lower side.

Besides being two of the nicest, most hospitable people in this industry, Dan and Ellen produce quality wines, among them several clonal selections of pinot noir, syrah and a dry riesling. By day, Dan is assistant winemaker at Lafond Winery & Vineyards, across the river.

This wine is produced from clones 95 and 76. Aged in 35 percent new French oak. Production: 150 cases. Retail: $29. No tasting room; www.kesslerhaakwine.com

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