Sweet Spot Cali Chard

Sweet Spot Cali Chard

Posted on Mar, 01. 2010 by

Categories: Wine

One of our customers pinged me the other day seeking a recommendation for a reasonably priced California Chardonnay. Since we haven’t published one of those since the Chalone Estate offering last fall I didn’t have anything top of mind, but I love a good research project and set out to find something appropriate. I spent a lot of time digging through the catalogs of some of our larger suppliers to come up with ideas from wineries I know well and others I’ve heard good things about, then cross-referenced the potential candidates with reviews on CellarTracker. Out of a handful of candidates, one clear leader emerged and so I promptly ordered a bottle to do my own diligence.

The 2008 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay Santa Barbara County turned out to be a real gem. Au Bon Climat was an early pioneer of Chardonnay in the Santa Barbara region, having been in the business nearly 30 years. They primarily produce Chardonnays and Pinots, sourcing fruit from the Bien Nacido vineyard on which the estate is located as well as many other top vineyards in the Central Coast region. The Santa Barbara County Chardonnay is their main cuvee; they also offer single vineyard bottlings from some of the other vineyards in certain years.

What caught my attention, beyond the fact that this is a leading producer in a strong geography, were the reviews — some strong scores and comments from the CellarTracker faithful as well as an excellent score from the #2 US wine reviewer Steve Tanzer. So I was excited to finally take delivery and pull the cork on this one, which I did over the weekend. And I must say the wine exceeded my already high expectations:

2/20/2010 rated 91 points: Light gold color. Nose of baked apples and lemon curd. On the palate, the fruit profile is similar; while it shows some oak, the fruit really shines through, along with a hint of minerality. Nice acidity focuses the flavors, taking them through a long, warm finish. Lovely stuff, a great representation of So Cal chardonnay and an excellent QPR.

What I meant by calling this a Sweet Spot wine is that it can be appreciated by a broad range of our customer base. If you prefer inexpensive selections (say under $10), this is worth a splurge to see how the other side lives without breaking the bank. On the other hand, if you regularly drink more expensive Chardonnay (say $25 and up), this wine delivers a similar quality level at a great price for everyday drinking. I’ll be loading up on this wine (since my Chalone is long gone, I’ve got a big hole where CA Chard ought to be), and since this is a reasonably high volume production you can feel free to order a bunch yourself without risking anyone else getting cut back as a result of your indulgence…

2008 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay Santa Barbara County
Retail price before [member discount|Our members save an average of 25% off the normal retail prices. As a courtesy to the retail wine industry we do not publish our prices.] $22.00 • Buy this wine!

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