Nielson Santa Barbara Chardonnay 2018
The 2018 has aromas of citrus flower, clean linen, and a burst of pineapple. The wine has a pleasant weight on the palate with honey and citrus notes and a light salinity.
Nielson Wines pays homage to its namesake, Uriel J. Nielson, who in 1964 planted the first commercial vineyard in Santa Barbara County, a region previously considered too cold to grow grapes. Known as a viticulture pioneer, Uriel didn’t heed warnings from neighboring farmers and didn’t flinch in his stance that Santa Barbara County could be one among the top winegrowing regions in the world. Today, five decades later, there are now more than 100 wineries and thousands of acres devoted to vineyards, producing wines recognized by critics worldwide for their amazing quality, uniqueness and compelling balance of flavor.
Nielson Wines continues in Uriel’s pioneering spirit, crafting ambitious wines that embody the freshness and vibrancy of the cool, coastal Southern California enclave. Each vintage, Winemaker Ryan Pace produces Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from some of the region’s most celebrated vineyard sites, with the original Nielson Vineyard serving as the backbone in most of the wines.
In the cellar, Ryan prefers to utilize small-lot winemaking techniques to showcase the nuances and character of each wine, such as hand pruning, block-by-block harvesting, barrel fermentations and lees stirring. These precise winemaking and vineyard practices are combined to create complex wines that embody the culture, lifestyle and flavor of Santa Barbara County.
With a dry and mild climate cooled significantly by moist ocean fog and breezes, Santa Barbara County is a grape-grower’s dream. Part of the larger Central Coast appellation, Santa Barbara is home to Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley. The conditions here provide an opportunity for nearly effortless production of high-quality cool-climate Central Coast 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, producing wines marked by racy acidity. Crisp Sauvignon Blanc and savory Syrah are also important. The region is 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 is grown and how it is made. While it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.