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New Customers Save $30* with code MARCHNEW30
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Paraiso Vineyards Chardonnay 1999
The rugged Santa Lucia Mountains frame Monterey County’s fertile Salinas Valley on the west, separating it from the Pacific Ocean. The famed Santa Lucia Highlands appellation encompasses a series of small alluvial terraces on the lower slopes of the range – perfect for boutique growers of world-class Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. The vines of this unique hillside district enjoy cooling ocean breezes and fog from nearby Monterey Bay. The resulting slow, gentle ripening contributes to California’s longest “hang time” – creating exceptional intensity, complexity, and balance in the grapes. Planted in 1973, the sixteen small vineyard plots of Paraiso Springs occupy unique microclimatic niches on the 400-acre estate. With varying elevations and soils, each plot boasts its own terroir, its own special sense of place…
The Smith Family has earned its reputation through constant experimentation and innovation, both in the vineyard and in the cellar. Combining time-honored techniques with these latest advances, Rich and Claudia’s son-in-law, winemaker David Fleming, practices his art – hands-on, barrel-by-barrel. The limited release wines of P.S.V. are among the most awarded in the state, eagerly sought after by collectors across the country…
The largest and perhaps most varied of California’s wine-growing regions, the Central Coast produces the majority of the state's wine. The sprawling district covers most of the vineyard land between San Francisco and Santa Barbara from the coast 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 Monterey, Paso Robles, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Maria Valley, and Santa Cruz Mountains.
Just about every major international grape variety is planted within this vast AVA, from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. A significant proportion of the region’s produce is generic, inexpensive bulk wine, but the Central Coast is also home to many small, artisanal wineries crafting unique, high-quality wines, as well as everything in between.
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.