Santa Maria Valley

The chardonnays from 2005 were marked by very high natural acidity levels, and the wines stubbornly refused to go through the acidity softening malo-lactic fermentation. The naturally occurring bacteria that cause this fermentation dislike very acidic conditions, so I went through a knock-down drag-out fight to get them to complete the malo-lactic. They did not cooperate, though fortunately all the mixing and stirring we did to encourage this secondary fermentation imparted a sense of yeasty richness that helps give the wines balance. This chardonnay possesses a dramatic smoky, toasty and lemony aroma, quite different from the usual tropical-fruit character that seems to define Bien Nacido Vineyard. Barrel fermented and aged in older French oak barrels, this very lively wine is the perfect foil for seafood. Although quite tart, it has a toasty rich character that lingers on the palate in a most delightful way.