Wine To Try: California Chardonnay



A review of the Santa Barbara Collection Chardonnay 2009.


By Louis Marmon


Capitol File Magazine May/June  2011


Santa Barbara ChardonnayChardonnay is quintessential California. It can be Hollywood—buttery as movie popcorn and steeped in enough oak to approximate woody overtones. It can reflect innovation as sleek as Silicon Valley, with bright, fresh balance using minimal oak that reveals the varietal’s underlying character and versatility.


Or it can be coastal chic. The cool climate conditions that produce Santa Barbara’s excellent Pinot Noirs (think Sideways) also yield some delightful vintages. Local winemaking preceded statehood by centuries, but only in the past few decades has Santa Barbara become an epicenter of fine wines. Few other locations are home to such a wide variety of Chardonnays, ranging from a racy unoaked style perfect with braised pork, sushi and shellfish, to the deep, rich and powerful ones that work well with poached salmon, roasted chicken and ethnic foods like curry or Thai cuisine.


Perfect for a pre-concert picnic at Wolf Trap is the medium-bodied Santa Barbara Collection Chardonnay 2009. Made from grapes grown primarily in the sandy soil of Los Alamos’ Cat Canyon Vineyard, it has floral and lemon aromas that lead into lovely apricot, orange and peach flavors with balanced citrus acidity and only a hint of oak at the end. Served slightly chilled, it’s an ideal accompaniment to lemon chicken, pasta or other light fare. California summer never tasted so good.



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