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Melville Estate Chardonnay 2004
In 1989, Melville Vineyards, a family owned and operated enterprise was founded in Sonoma County's Knights Valley, where Ron Melville grew high quality, much sought after Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1996, Ron's desire to grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay brought Melville Vineyards to Lompoc's Sta. Rita Hills, located in the western Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County, California.
The Sta. Rita Hills appellation is where Ron Melville and his sons Brent and Chad Melville decided to develop their estate vineyards and winery. Since then, they have also developed an interest in Rhone varietals, particularly Northern Rhone Syrah and Viognier. The Melville estate achieves quality through the integrity of its farming practice and its respect to the microclimate. The Melvilles believe that a fine wine begins in the terroir (teh-RWAHR) or microclimate of a vineyard. Terroir is the French term for soil. In the vineyard, it encompasses soil type and geographic factors which may influence the quality of wine. This is indicative of the Melvilles' decision to grow wine in the Sta. Rita Hills (AVA) appellation.
The largest and perhaps most varied of California’s wine-growing regions, the Central Coast produces a good majority of the state's wine. This vast district stretches from San Francisco all the way to Santa Barbara along the coast, and reaches inland nearly all the way to the Central Valley.
Encompassing an extremely diverse array of climates, soil types and wine styles, it contains many smaller sub-AVAs, including San Francisco Bay, Monterey, the Santa Cruz Mountains, Paso Robles, Edna Valley, Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Maria Valley.
While the region could probably support almost any major grape varietiy, it is famous for a few. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel are among the major ones. The Central Coast is home to many of the state's small, artisanal wineries crafting unique, high-quality wines, as well as larger producers also making exceptional wines.
One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While practically every country in the wine producing world grows it, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. As far as cellar potential, white Burgundy rivals the world’s other age-worthy whites like Riesling or botrytized Semillon. California is Chardonnay’s second most important home, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia and South America are also significant producers of Chardonnay.
In the Glass
When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay flavors tend towards grapefruit, lemon zest, green apple, celery leaf and wet flint, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of melon, peach and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut and spice, while malolactic fermentation imparts a soft and creamy texture.
Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with flaky white fish with herbs, scallops, turkey breast and soft cheeses. Richer Chardonnays marry well with lobster, crab, salmon, roasted chicken and creamy 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. In Burgundy, the subregion of Chablis, while typically employing the use of older oak barrels, produces a similar bright and acid-driven style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy its lighter style.