So how to account for this wine's unique quality, value and style?
It starts with the grapes of course - from some of Sonoma County's ("SoCo") top sustainable Chardonnay vineyards, mainly in the Russian River, and which mainly make $45 to $60 wines. Yields are low and the winemaking is both brilliant and minimalist. (No batonage even.) And then there's the vintage, 2018, which the Lioco guys hint "may be the vintage of our careers."
I think of this as less a Chardonnay than as a white Pinot Noir. No, it doesn't taste like white Pinot Noir. (There is such a thing: a mutation shared by Gouges and Chevillon that makes really cool wine, but not like this.) It's more that this wine shares certain attributes or qualities with Pinot Noir that have made that red grape so immensely popular.
Give me a little rope here. My point is that it's not Sideways that catapulted Pinot to such prominence - indeed to a level of popularity where one could sell a mere Pinot Noir brand name (and a young one at that) for $315 million. It's that Pinot Noir is both the perfect "cocktail wine" (that is, delicious and enjoyable to virtually everyone on its own) and the perfect "food wine" (high in acid, low in tannin and wonderful with everything from salmon to chicken to pork to even bland and boring vegan dishes!)
No single white wine grape captures these qualities so universally as Pinot Noir does. Rather, the qualities of ones that do - lower alcohol, less oak, higher acidity, BUT still a full, pleasing texture and flavor - well, you can find these (if rarely) in everything from Fiano di Avellino to Hungarian Dry Furmint (Carpinus...yum!).
Yet very, very seldom in Chardonnays...especially at this price.