Edna Valley Vineyard Central Coast Chardonnay 2016

The Edna Valley Vineyard Central Coast Chardonnay 2016 is sourced from vineyards in both the Edna Valley AVA (inside San Luis Obispo County, about 1/2 between L.A and S.F.) and the Monterey County AVA, both inside the Central Coast AVA. Edna Valley Vineyards were one of the pioneers of the Edna Valley AVA (founded in 1982) though the winery is now owned by E & J Gallo. Edna Valley Vineyards has always focused on Chardonnay and this is not a cookie-cutter Chard. 2/3’s of the wine was fermented in stainless steel vats and the last 1/3 in used oak barrels. The barrel fermented Chardonnay went thru malolactic fermentation, the stainless steel portion did not. 10% of the wine was aged in stainless steel, while 90% was aged “on” French oak, different lots for different lengths of time, with the longest aging lasting 8 months. The oak aging was “on lees“, which indicates the dead yeast and grape residue was kept in the barrel with the wine, when stirred on a regular basis, here it was once a week, the wine picks ups creamy texture and flavor. I am always confused when they say the wine was aged “on” instead of “in” oak barrels, it that another way of saying the same thing or does it mean something else? Oak barrel fermentation, varying lots of malolactic fermentation, on lees, and a complicated oak program are features usually found in more expensive Chardonnay and not one I found selling for $8. The alcohol content is a ripe 13.9%.

The color is a wheat yellow with a slight green tint. The nose is melon, apple, and lemon, along with vanilla, pear, a little ripe peach, and a splash of grapefruit. This Chard has a smooth, mellow mouth-feel, with some bright acidity added in. It tastes of ripe apple, a hit of citrus spice, dried apricot, pear, and guava. The mid-palate shows the cream from the “on lees’, melon, and grapefruit, but not too acidic. The acidity is well controlled, use it with the meal or an as a patio sipper, it’s fine either way. The finish is full and slowly fades.

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The Edna Valley Vineyard Central Coast Chardonnay 2016 is a fine example of California Chardonnay, ripe juicy fruit, enough oak for flavor, but not enough to weight it down, and super easy to drink. I found it for under ten dollars and this Chard is not “dumbed down” in any way, the acidity is solid (if you want to please a French winemaker from Burgundy you praise the acidity their Chardonnay, you can’t have good Chardonnay without solid acidity). It has an interesting flavor profile, yes, there is oak, but none of that butter stuff, just creamy vanilla and some rounding of the apple, peach and pear flavors. This is a Chardonnay with “personality” and loads of flavor and a very easy on the budget price tag.

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Don’t tell anyone, but there is absolutely no correlation between the cost of wine and the quality of wine.