Wow -- a Golden Ticket . . . . Dreams really do come true!
After getting the email alert & the FedEx phone call, I was on pins & needles waiting for the arrival of the elixir of the gods . . . And, when it arrived on my doorstep, I was not disappointed -- the 2009 Sextant Central Coast Chardonnay. I’ve been following Sextant’s offerings, and because of summer heat issues, I had opted out of the last two. And then I was in Paso Robles in September, mid-week after Labor Day, and their Paso tasting room wasn’t open during the week -- Yikes, very sad.
After tasting many above-average Paso, Sta. Rita, Monterrey & Central Coast Chardonnays while we were out there, I was thrilled to see Sextant’s Chardonnay in the box -- and we were not disappointed.
A few notes -- I do like Chardonnays -- I like steely, flinty crisp Chablis style Chardonnays, and I like round, rich creamy California Chardonnays. They are different treatments of the same grape, yet each with their own emphasis and effect and place in a wine portfolio. I don’t like Chardonnays that are so crisp that they lose any roundness or hints of rich white fruits, and I don’t like Chardonnays that are overly oaked or so creamy/buttery that they are cloying. So, with that being said . . . . here we go . . . .
Opening the 2009 Sextant Central Coast Chardonnay -- temp is about 55 - 56’ -- Color is beautiful golden straw color -- very clear, yet a hue with depth. Nose on opening -- creamy butter with tropical fruit. As you swirl, the fruit becomes much more prominent & the white peachiness comes out.
First sips -- first reaction -- very round, no sharpness on the palate, but no overt creaminess or cloying on the finish. Tastes like a mature Chardonnay -- doesn’t need any holding time to balance out the palate -- well rounded and balanced comes up in a couple of people’s notes. No noticeable oak on the nose or the palate.
The palate begins to open up a bit as we drink the first glass without food -- descriptions include stone fruit, with hints of citrus and “not quite ripe” nectarine & mandarin orange. You really get the fruitiness with just a hint of “greeness” or “citrus” depending upon how your palate picks up the acidity. As the glass warms up closer to room temperature, the hints of honeysuckle, maybe ripe honeydew melon, start to come through. The creaminess and buttery aroma are more pronounced as it warms up.
Second glass was an hour or so later, after being held back in the 55’ cooler, with food. Served with roasted chicken, zucchini, red potatoes -- nothing particularly fatty or spicy. The acidity in the wine came out & made a significant change on the finish. Became much more of a food wine than we expected, and provided a nice acidic, almost crisp, palate cleanser with each sip. Didn’t really expect that. I guess that’s where the lack of oak really comes across.
This is a nice lightly rounded Chardonnay -- it’s not crisp by any standard, but yet it does play nicely with food. Similarly, it’s not a big oaky, buttery Cali Chard, yet it is round and smooth with a silky mouth-feel. The stainless steel tanks definitely make a difference with this one. I think if it had been fully oaked, it would have been over the top; but the balance of the ML fermentation against the stainless steel (and only 10% oak) allowed the richness of the grape to shine through without overwhelming it with the vanilla oakiness that too frequently disguises the characteristics of the grape.
Overall -- Easy to drink without food or with a nice light dinner. I think it would be a nice wine to take to a party when you’re not sure what’s being served or don’t want to offend -- or similarly, a nice wine to serve as an opening aperitif or with heavy appetizers. Could mend the stand-off between crisp SB or Pinot Grigio drinkers and the round creamy Chardonnay and floral Viognier fans. I think I preferred it without food and a bit on the cooler side. Depending upon the price point and the offering, we’re in for at least one.
Kudos to the winemakers & hope to visit next time we're out that way.
Many thanks to WineDavid & all of Wine.Woot -- and to all of you fellow Wooters, Cheers!
Now, off to bed . . . my work here is done.
"We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana as of a miracle. But this conversion is, through the goodness of God, made every day before our eyes. Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy." Benjamin Franklin