This is the first time I've had a US steel barrel fermented chardonnay with absolutely no oak treatment. I cast my mind back, but I couldn't think of one time I've had anything similar. Wheelbarrow full of oak chips in dumped in a stainless steel barrel? Been there. Suspicion of coconut essence? Done that. Kazaoto achieves what it does with intensity and balance, and what it does is satisfy.
On first impression the wine looks a little dull. Most wines at this price point have a brightness to them. Pastel yellow to icterine. Never mind, onwards to the nose which is the paragon of cleanliness. Lime, artichoke, whetstone and and a herbal component I thought a little like parsley. The aromas are lifted by a dynamic, vivacious acid component.
The palate is simple, elegant and lengthy. Sweetened citrus and a stemmy, resinous character give this wine a very fresh character. Minerals revealing themselves on the mid-palate. Not quite flinty, but the acid has an angularity to it that suggest another year in the cellar would reap rewards. The effect smooths out afterwords. Leaving a persistent, uncluttered flavour of green stone fruit and candied citrus zest, this wine intrigues deeply for something so ostensibly simple.
If you're looking into something new, look into a steel barrel. You never know what you might find.