- Producer: Dragonette Cellars
- Winemakers: John Dragonette, Steve Dragonette, & Brandon Sparks-Gillis
- Region (AVA): Santa Ynez Valley (Sta. Rita Hills)
- Blend: 100% Chardonnay
- Vintage production: 220 cases
- Winery location: Buelton
- Owners: John Dragonette, Steve Dragonette, & Brandon Sparks-Gillis
- First vintage: 2015
- Drinking window: 2020-2028+
About The Wine
The Dragonette Team strives to create Chardonnays of textural purity, complexity and balance with classic tension. Complexity and balance are achieved by meticulous attention to detail in the vineyard, where each vineyard block is managed for appropriate canopy and proper yields.
Rita’s Crown vineyard is located at one of the highest points in the Sta. Rita Hills, adjacent to such famous sites as Mt Carmel and Sea Smoke. The soils are a mix of sandy and clay loams with diatomaceous earth. Dragonette's Chardonnay comes from two steeply pitched blocks with west and southwest facing slopes, regularly buffeted by high winds and engulfed in fog. The low vigour soils produce a small canopy, small yields and a long slow growing season. The wines here tend to show some beautiful tropical fruits, but are typically balanced and energetic, with strong notes of chalky minerals and ample acidity providing lift and cut.
Individual blocks are picked in separate passes with field sorting. Within hours, the grapes are gently pressed, the juice settled, then put down to barrels for primary fermentation, which takes place with native yeasts. The wine sees native malolactic fermentation and was aged on its lees in French oak barrels, one third new, for a total of 16 months.
2018 saw a return to the weather of the cooler years such as 2010/2011. Winter rains and a cool early spring helped delay budbreak, while providing for a good soil water profile. Weather was good during set, allowing for reasonable, though not excessive, yields. A warm early summer promoted ripeness, but in late August the weather turned quite cool, with only moderate daytime highs, lots of clouds and cold nights. The grapes, generally, moved very slowly toward full ripeness, which occurred in September. Grapes had excellent flavours at lower sugars and with plenty of energetic acid and good freshness.
Dragonette Rita's Crown Vineyard Chardonnay 2018
"From a great vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills, the 2018 Chardonnay Rita's Crown Vineyard just jumps from the glass with exotic notes of spiced citrus, nectarines, flowers, and honeysuckle-like aromas and flavors. It's a rich, beautifully textured, elegant yet concentrated Chardonnay with loads to love. It shows more salinity and minerality with time in the glass and I suspect will evolve for a solid 7-8 years."
94 points, Jeb Dunnuck (Apr. 2020)
"The 2018 Chardonnay Rita's Crown Vineyard is a rich, phenolic wine that captures all of the rugged intensity of this site. Broad and creamy in feel, with tons of power in reserve, the Rita's Crown is simply fabulous. Tropical overtones and a touch of new oak add complexity to this decidedly savory Chardonnay. Poor soils and naturally low yields produce a Chardonnay of real distinction."
94 points, Antonio Galloni (Vinous, Jul. 2020)