My database reveals I hadn’t sampled this wine since the 2013 vintage, but my tasting notes for the 2018 are remarkably similar. This is probably music to the ears of winemaker Bruce McGuire, who has chosen fruit from blocks that consistency deliver the style he’s after in this cuvée.
McGuire sources the grapes from a variety of vineyards throughout Santa Barbara County, balancing warmer and cooler sites. About two-thirds of the Chardonnay is from Los Alamos Vineyard, with the remainder deriving from Bien Nacido, Hilltop Ranch, and Wente. In some years he includes a tiny fraction of Riesling or Chenin in the blend; this vintage is just Riesling, about 4 percent. Grapes were whole-cluster pressed and fermented half in stainless steel tank and half in barrel, 15 percent new, with malolactic fermentation and lees stirring.
The result is shiny deep gold, a wine redolent of citrus peels, honeydew, and baked pineapple, with a stripe of oily sage. Solid acidity lifts the concentrated fruit. This is a textural wine, coating and weighty, a mouthful of ripeness. The creamy notes make it a good partner for bloomy cow’s milk cheeses, butter- or cream-sauces, gratins studded with cheese. It’s also a fine counterpoint for roasted poultry, salmon, or pork.
2018 Santa Barbara Winery Chardonnay Santa Barbara County
14.3% abv | About $18