Yet Another Reliable White from S.B.’s In Town Winery

The enjoyment of wine seems to go from exact (notes of vanilla
and grass, for instance) to experiential, like how this 2005 Santa
Barbara Chardonnay
goes perfectly well with a French onion soup
and green salad with ginger sesame dressing from Sojourner, followed by a dessert of tow-in surf and
hip-hop Both types of wine enjoyment and
writing make sense in their own regard, and I tend to prefer a mix
of both, as evidenced above.

In this case, I find myself dwelling upon a bottle of this
mixed-vineyard chard (specifically 10 percent Lafond, 46 percent
Hill Top, 14 percent Byron, 10 percent Schied, and 20 percent Los
Alamos) because it found its way to my house thanks to the Santa
Barbara Winery’s very busy wine
. They seem to send me a reminder to pick up my new stuff
every other week or so, and I tend to oblige with speed, once I
finally realized that they’d already charged me once I got the

I’m a member of far too many wine clubs, but the Santa Barbara
Winery is one of my favorites, in part for the frequency of the
orders, but moreso because the prices are always humbly reasonable.
In this case, the 2005 Chardonnay is only $14, and I got it at even
less due to the wine club discount. For me, that’s cheap enough to
enjoy on a weekday night that’s got no special occasion, other than
writing reviews of wines, music, film, and the like.

As for the flavor, it tastes like a crisp chard, enough suavity
from the French oak barrels to please those needing the oak
overtones, but still reserved so that the butter doesn’t pound your
tongue. Which is to say that it’s no doubt a Californian creation,
but that Euros could appreciate the restraint. sb%20winery%20inside.jpg That balance of flavor is reflected in
the light yellow color and medium-high alcohol content at 13.7
percent. Winemaker Bruce McGuire knows his crops well, as this
recent release confirms. Pick it up and drink it down without any
pricetag regrets.

And as a bit of related news, Santa Barbara Winery put out a
press release last month claiming that a new wine is trying to
piggyback on the aforementioned chardonnay’s success. According to
the winery’s marketing director Craig Addis, the Bronco Wine
Company out of Ceres, California — famous for the cheap Charles
Shaw wines, aka “Two Buck Chuck” — has released a wine that mimics
the chard reviewed here. bronco%20chard.jpg That wine, available for about $5 at
Trader Joe’s, is called Santa Barbara Landing, 2005 Santa Barbara
County Chardonnay. A quick look at the label and it’s easy to see
why the S.B. Winery folks are concerned: the font seems nearly
identical and the soft colors are reminscent of the hues on S.B.
Winery labels.

Said Addis, “While some might consider this a backhanded
compliment, it misleads the consumer and taints Santa Barbara
Winery’s hard-earned reputation for top flight chardonnays.” Addis
points out that Bronco does not make its wine in Santa Barbara —
indeed, the back label explains that Santa Barbara Landing Winery
is actually in Sonoma. That makes winemaker Bruce McGuire wonder
whether the wine is even fully from this county.

“It is very difficult to create a quality chardonnay from this
region at that price point,” explained McGuire. “Since the legal
requirement is that 75 percent of the grapes must be from Santa
Barbara County chardonnay, I wonder if that producer is willing to
make a statement as to the contents and origin of everything in
that bottle.”

Worst of all, according to Addis, is that people will think
there is a relationship between the two wineries. “Just like the
BWC’s $5 Napa River brand, these producers hope to ride on Santa
Barbara’s reputation and perceived consumer ignorance. It’s what’s
behind the label that counts.”

And behind the S.B. Winery label, at least, is some tasty stuff.
I’ve yet to try the Landing, and given the tactics, might not do so
out of principle. The Details: To pick up your own bottle, head
down to the Santa Barbara Winery on 202 Anacapa Street or just
click here to order online.


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