Chardonnay, 1982. Santa Ynez Valley Winery| Vintage Wine History and Information

by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | February 1984

The California wine this month has a remarkable heritage. The site of the winery is the Old College Ranch in Santa Ynez Valley. It housed the first college estab­lished in California by Franciscan priests in 1843.

In 1923, the Bettencourts purchased the property and started a dairy. They operated it for 50 years. In 1968, Boyd Bettencourt began to realize that, with the sudden wine boom in California, wine might be a better business than milk! Converting some pasture­land to grapes, becoming a grape farmer for a while, and then exper­imenting with home winemaking led to the establishment the Santa Ynez Valley Winery. He got together with his neighbour Bill Davidge, took in a third partner C. Fredrich Brander (Davis enology graduate) and crushed commercially for the first time in 1976. The first fermenting tanks were milk tanks!

The Santa Ynez Valley Winery is located between the towns of Solvang and Santa Ynez, one mile south of Mission Drive on Refugio Road. (a 6 mile gallop from the Western White House, Rancho del Cielo, of the Reagan’s) A rustic setting, with a basic no-frills environment, the winery has a following of customers. They sign up for the annual Open House in the Spring of every year, and turn up to taste the current wines, old wines from the cellar, and barrel samples of future wines. Try it some year. You will enjoy it.

It was at one of the trade tastings that their 1982 Chardonnay caught my attention. It was a good buy for the quality. On the heels of showing you a Santa Ynez Valley Appellation Pinot Noir last month, I thought it would be interesting to feature another wine with the same appellation.

In California, the chardonnay grape has found its best home in the Napa Valley. The wines made from Sonoma and Mendocino grapes have often excelled. The Central Coast chardonnays have shown a wide variation. More recently developed wine growing regions like the Santa Ynez Valley and Temecula are showing some surprises like this month’s wine.

Originally and still the premier white grape of Burgundy, Chardonnay or Pinot Chardonnay, (No difference. The latter was the older name for the grape. It was thought that it belonged to the Pinot family of grapes, but it does not.) has been plated in many parts of the world. It produces a dry white wine that is food oriented. With ageing in oak cooperage, a dimension of flavor is added to its varietal character that is traditionally described as appley, sun-warmed peachy, and smooth as “cream”. The better char­donnays that have seen wood will age for up to 10 years. The non oaked styles demonstrate restrained fruitiness and freshness of flavor that are quick to age.

Our wine is golden yellow in color. It has a fragrant, fresh nose, with oak showing. Clean and intense. The taste is a surprise. It immediately shows a buttery smoothness, which lingers a while, then it is followed with a crisp­ness that builds in the mouth, and finishes on the acid side. Remark­able wine for this price! Serve chilled with seafood entrees. Great with lobster tail or prawns and drawn butter.

Cellaring Notes: Will develop for 4 to 6 years with complexities. Worth laying down.

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