Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Edna Valley Paragon Vineyard Chardonnay 2008

California Chardonnay- big, bombastic white wines full of oak and all that implies - is a style many wine drinkers have been shying away from in recent years.  The swing toward unoaked - naked, if you will - Chardonnays which emphasize the flavor of the fruit and the effect of the earth has left many old-line California Chardonnays holding the oak.

I’ll admit, I love the purity and minerality expressed in an unoaked or low-oaked Chardonnay.  Burgundy found long ago how much was to be gained by letting the terroir do the talking.  There are times, though, when you want a Chardonnay to get all hedonistic on you.  For me, the holiday season is that time.

After months of austere whites and fruity, bone-dry ros├ęs, the arrival of that lip-smacking prelude to the Thanksgiving feast puts me in the mood for a big, creamy, buttery Chardonnay.  And I look to Edna Valley.

A place responsible for many of those austere whites which refreshed me through the summer, Edna Valley is also home to one of my favorite over-the-top Chardonnays, Edna Valley Vineyard.

A San Luis Obispo County favorite, the ‘08 Paragon Vineyard Chardonnay has a nose full of vanilla spice, richly layered flavors and a near-bracing acidity to make it a more than capable holiday choice.  It’s great with food.  Turkey is a snap for this wine, which even turns a handful of peanuts or almonds into a gourmet delight.

I had a bottle early in the spring, and it put me in mind of a holiday spread even then.  “The wood comes through in healthy fashion,” I wrote, “with strong notes of vanilla and traces of holiday spice.  This would be a great white on the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table.”

The wine shows a golden straw color in the glass, one that suggests there may be some oak at play.  The nose further reveals that influence with the spiciness.  Pears and some of those Edna Valley minerals also are apparent.”

The incredibly full palate is dripping with the sweet fruit flavor found in a can of fruit, like pineapple, pears or peaches in heavy juice.  There's more than a trace of lemon zest, too, and a razor-sharp acidity despite the creaminess of the mouthfeel.  So big is the taste, it may make you think there's an extra portion of something on your plate.

My bottle was on sale at a discount store for $13.  Its 13.9% abv, is a fairly moderate number, something many of us like to keep in mind during holiday entertaining.

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