A Paragon of Viniferous Virtue?

San Luis Obispo is a very cool place.  A few years back I had the opportunity to spend several days there on business.  Luckily, the work schedule wasn’t overly taxing, and I got to look around a bit.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have a rental car available.  Thus, I didn’t make it to any of the area wineries.  Taking a quick gander over at slowine.com – a website devoted to the wine industry in the San Luis Obispo (SLO) area – it looks like there are just under 30 wineries thereabouts.  Good thing I didn’t have a rental car, I may not have gotten any work done!

Edna Valley Winery, it seems, is by far the best known of the SLO wineries.  I’ve had Edna Valley wines in the past, and those experiences have all been good.  Obviously, then, I had no qualms in trying a new vintage of their product.  When I picked up the bottle of this Chardonnay, however, I was a little taken aback by the name on the label – Paragon.  The Oxford Dictionaries define paragon as “a person or thing viewed as a model of excellence.”  Oh boy, now that’s making quite a statement and a big promise as well!  And this is a Chardonnay from the Central Coast …  period.  It’s not Select or Reserve or Vintner’s Reserve or labeled as vineyard specific.  So how much of a paragon could this Edna Valley white be?

Winemaker:  Edna Valley
Wine:  Paragon
Varietal:  Chardonnay
Vintage:  2011
Appellation:  Central Coast, CA
Price:  $10.99

Notes:  The color of this SLO Chardonnay was a pretty, light golden hue.  In the bouquet I caught scents of tart apple, citrus, hints of spice and lemongrass.  On the tongue, it was on the lighter side of Chardonnay.  Acidity was good, and alcohol was at 13.9%.  As far as flavors go, I found light apple and citrus at the fore leading to more citrus with butterscotch highlights here and there.  Toward the end it developed a kerosene note, and toasty spices lingered on the finish.  This was a fun ride for my taste buds.  It wasn’t a full-bodied offering, but it certainly presented enough flavor to keep me interested.  Virtue?  Absolutely.  Paragon?  Well ….

StoneCap Chardonnay 2011

I’d never heard of StoneCap Wines when I ran across this on the shelves at a local grocery store.  Label indicates all the grapes used to make this Chardonnay are grown in StoneCap’s Goose Ridge Vineyard – estate grown, as it were.

Winemaker:  StoneCap Wines
Varietal:  Chardonnay
Vintage:  2011
Appellation:  Columbia Valley, WA
Price:  $10.49

Notes:  The bouquet of this Washington selection was fairly light with scents of citrus, grass and wildflowers.  The wine was a very pale yellow, and it was light-bodied with good acidity.  At 12.5% alcohol, it could have been sweet on the palate.  I thought, however, the bright acidity kept it from going too far in that direction.  Flavors I found included lemon, a hint of cream, grass and grapefruit.  On the lingering finish the citrus hung in along with a note of warm baking spices.  Overall it was a pretty decent glass of Chardonnay.  Now I want to sample some of the other StoneCap wines.  Nice discovery for me at the local Giant.

First Colony Chardonnay 2011

This is the first of the two selections I brought back with me from the Vintage Virginia 2013 wine festival a few weeks ago.  This is a winery that was new to me, and I was intrigued enough by a quick sip or two of their wines to want to experience more.  I probably would have purchased more than just one bottle then if I’d had the room to tote them home with me.

First Colony makes a couple of Chardonnays.  One is labeled Estate Reserve and spends some eighteen months in a combination of new American and neutral French oak barrels.  This one, on the other hand, is unoaked.

Winemaker:  First Colony Winery
Varietal:  Chardonnay
Vintage:  2011
Appellation:  Monticello, Virginia AVA
Price:  $14.00

Notes:  This Virginia Chardonnay was a medium yellow in the glass with a tinge of goldenrod.  On the nose I detected light fig and citrus with some floral hints.  It was a medium-bodied Chardonnay, and the acidity was fairly lively.  On the palate I tasted fig, citrus, brown spice, and the slightest touch of butter with a nice grassy finish.  Alcohol is at 11.4%, but it didn’t present as a sweet wine.  I definitely enjoyed the fact that the flavor profile was just a tad outside the “usual” for Chardonnays I run across.  I liked it.   By the way, the winemaker says this wine presents with banana, lime and kiwi flavors.  Maybe my taster was off this go-round, but I’m sticking with my notes.  If you give it a try, please post a comment and let me know what you think.  Either way, I thought it was a pleasant Chardonnay that would pair very nicely with some succulent summer barbecue – chicken or pork, your choice.

Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.