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Lumen Chardonnay 2013
Lane has always had a reputation for being the first to call a pick in the vineyard. Even during the 1990's and 2000's, at a time when most of her peers were chasing Parker scores and pushing harvest times ever later, Lane held fast to her winemaking philosophy - scores or no scores. Ironically, her winemaking style has now come back into vogue.
Lane Tanner was one of the first female winemakers in Central California, and the first to dedicate her entire winery to Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir. Her knowledge of the Santa Maria Valley dates back to her first vintage in 1981, as oenologist for Firestone, a job that the legendary Andre Tchelistcheff recommended her for. She later made wine for Zaca Mesa and the Hitching Post, and finally under her own label in 1989. Her wines are notable for being low in alcohol and sulfites, a practice that she continues to this day.
Will Henry entered the wine business shortly after college in 1989 and worked at Leeuwin Estate Winery in Western Australia. He then entered wine sales and worked for The Henry Wine Group, his family's wine distribution company, on and off for the following 20 years. In the meantime he became a widely-published journalist and photographer, and also founded the non-profit organization Save The Waves Coalition. His knowledge of sales and marketing is the perfect complement to Lane's winemaking skills. Both Will and Lane make the wines together in Santa Maria, CA.
With a dry and mild climate cooled significantly by breezy ocean fog, Santa Barbara County is a grape-grower’s dream. Part of the larger Central Coast appellation, Santa Barbara is home to six separate AVAs—Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, and its four sub-AVAs Sta. Rita Hills, Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos District, and Happy Canyon. The conditions here provide an opportunity for nearly effortless production of high-quality cool-climate wines. This is also the site of the 2004 film Sideways, which caused Pinot Noir’s popularity to skyrocket and brought new acclaim to the region.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the stars of Santa Barbara, marked by trademark racy acidity, crisp Sauvignon Blanc, and savory Syrah. The region is also home to many young and enthusiastic winemakers eager to experiment with less common varieties including Chenin Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Trousseau Gris, Gamay, and Cabernet Franc, making it an exciting area to watch.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made. In Burgundy, Chardonnay produces some of the finest white wines in the world, typically tending towards minimal intervention in the winery and at its best resulting in remarkable longevity. This grape is popular throughout the world, but perhaps its second most important home is in California, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia, South America, South Africa, and New Zealand are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay’s flavors tend towards grapefruit, green apple, minerals, and white stone fruit, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of fig, melon, and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut, and spice (as well as texture), while malolactic fermentation can impart soft, buttery acidity.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with simple seafood, light chicken dishes, and salads. Richer Chardonnays marry well with cream or oil-based sauces.
Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. These Old-World style wines have been dubbed the “New California Chardonnays,” and anyone who claims they do not like Chardonnay should give them a try.