Testarossa: The 2022 Chardonnays from the Santa Lucia Highlands, Chalone, Sta Rita Hills, and Arroyo Grande

Rob Jensen has been sourcing Chardonnay from the best vineyards in Central California for over three decades, and we’ve been reviewing them almost as long.  The Santa Lucia Highlands have always been at the core of the portfolio, but in recent years Testarossa has added outstanding vineyards from further south: iconic vineyards like Sanford & Benedict and La Rinconada in the Santa Rita Hills and the Talley Family’s Rincon Vineyard in Arroyo Grande (now part of the new SLO Coast AVA).

Winemaker Bill Brosseau

We recently visited Rob and winemaker Bill Brosseau at the historic Testarossa Novitiate Winery in Los Gatos and tasted several older vintages   that illustrate the increasingly refined and balanced character  of the Testarossa Chardonnays as well as their ageability.  Having worked with the same vineyards for so long, Bill clearly knows how to cultivate and harvest the diverse vineyards to get the best fruit and then does micro-vinifications parcel by parcel to allow for fine-tuned blending.

Most of the Chardonnays reviewed below are from the 2022 vintage.  This was a challenging vintage with reduced yields and a Labor Day heat spike.  But earlier than usual growing conditions meant most Chardonnay was picked before the heat spike and was of exceptionally high quality.  Some of the older vintages we tasted on our visit with Rob and Bill at Testarossa are shown below.

The Wines

Regional Blends

Testarossa 2022 Diana’s Chardonnay California ($86) 95 This barrel selection is a beautiful rendition of classic California Chardonnay sourced from distinctive, cool growing areas of the state. Very flavorful with generous orchard and tropical fruit beautifully balanced by vivacious acidity and a grippy structure. While it sees a bit more new oak than Testarossa’s other Chardonnays, it’s seamlessly integrated and contributes to the full, rich mouthfeel.  Sourced from Sta Rita Hills, Arroyo Grande Valley and Chalone; pressed whole cluster and fermented in French oak. Aged 17 months in 57% new French oak. pH 3.35, 14.2% alc. This is the best Diana’s Chardonnay to date, in our opinion.

Testarossa 2022 Chardonnay Santa Lucia Highlands ($46) 92 Equilibrium is this wine’s calling card. Fruity with savory notes; fresh acidity but also rich, ripe flavors; all too easy to drink but with a firm backbone and a long flavorful finish. We’ve always been fans of this Santa Lucia Highlands vineyard blend, and this vintage is no different. pH 3.50, 14.2% alc.

Sta Rita Hills

Testarossa 2022 Chardonnay La Rinconada Vineyard Sta Rita Hills ($57) 94 Beautiful aromatics of fresh yellow fruit, nectarine, hint of green mango, and a slight hint of oak. Gorgeous phenolics with a firm, rich backbone, mineral-like character in the mouth, and a long, focused finish. Excellent balance.  pH 3.25, 14.2% alc. Clone 15 and Wente Clone matured 15 months in 34% new French oak.

Testarossa 2022 Chardonnay Sanford & Benedict Vineyard Sta Rita Hills ($57) 94  Medium yellow with a golden hue. Mineral like nose of roasted grain and Meyer lemon. A superbly balanced wine showing good grip and firm-edged flavors.  From a 51 year old vineyard of Wente Clone vines planted on shaly and clay loam soils at 395?; pressed whole cluster and fermented and aged 15 months in 40% new French oak. pH 3.15, 14.1% alc.

The Arroyo Grande Valley (SLO Coast)

Testarossa 2022 Chardonnay Rincon Vineyard Arroyo Grande Valley (SLO Coast) ($57) 93  Medium yellow straw. Exuberant nose of lemon, yellow apple and toast. Bright and beautifully balanced, the 2022 vintage is easily the equal of the  2021 vintage that we reviewed in our SLO Coast report. Concentrated and firmly structured with rich phenolics and superb length. From the Talley Family’s vineyard planted to Clone 4, whole cluster pressed, fermented and aged 12 months in 50% new French oak. pH 3.44, 14.1% alc.

Santa Lucia Highlands

Testarossa 2022 Chardonnay Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands ($57) 93 Opens with notes of honeysuckle, marzipan, and orchard fruit that are mirrored on the palate. Good balance with bright acidity counterbalancing the impression of sweetness left by the fruit; finishes dry with lingering richness. 26 year old vines of Clones 76 and 96, whole cluster pressed and fermented and aged 12 months in 40% new French oak. pH 3.22, 14.3% alc.

Testarossa 2022 Chardonnay Sierra Mar Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands ($57) 93  Medium yellow. A youthful wine that seemed reticent initially but opened up within an hour. So we suggest you be patient and give this iwine a little air before drinking. The Sierra Mar Chardonnay is stony in character with excellent concentration and grip on the mid-palate and has a long, mineral-like finish with rich extract. Similar to the 2019 vintage although this wine shows almost no obvious oak. From the 1000? high Sierra Mar Vineyard, the highest in the Santa Lucia Highlands, owned by the Franscioni family. 14.2% alc

Testarossa 2022 Chardonnay Soberanes Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands ($57) 94  The Soberanes Chardonnay opens with scents of spring flowers and Meyer lemon. Superbly balanced with a firm structure and dense flavors of lemon curd and mandarin zest. Very long finish with rich extract.  The oak influence was dialed back on this wine, preserving its delicacy and highlighting its minerality. Soberanes, a vineyard of 14-year-old vines owned by the Pisoni and Franscioni families and grown on sandy loam soils at 400? with an East/Northeast orientation; whole cluster pressed and fermented and aged 12 months in 25% new French oak. pH 3.27, 14.2% alc.


Testarossa 2021 Chardonnay Brosseau Vineyard Chalone ($55) 94  Medium yellow gold. Made from the unique, high altitude terroir of the Chalone AVA, this Chardonnay is savory and dense. It’s packed with flavors that evoke tropical and stone fruit and a firm sense of minerality, reminiscent of a Les Clos Chablis. A gorgeous combination of restrained power and energetic vibrance with a long, stony finish.  Sourced from the 42 year old, 1700’ high vineyard planted to the Wente Clone with limestone soils in the Chalone AVA. Matured 20 months in 47% new French oak.  pH 3.3, 14.1% alc.

Source : https://i-winereview.com/blog/index.php/2024/05/09/testarossa-the-2022-chardonnays-from-the-santa-lucia-highlands-chalone-sta-rita-hills-and-arroyo-grande/