Full Boat Central Coast Chardonnay 2005
I was able to find virtually no information about this excellent $13 California Chardonnay,
but it is just as well to let the wine itself speak. Central Coast acts as an umbrella appellation,
encompassing the stretch of land between Los Angeles and San Francisco, within which we
find Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Monterrey. As with any large appellation, the
skeptic could say this is too broad a region to give a wine any sense of physical place. One
could of course point out on the positive side that the larger the source region, the better the
pickings for the careful producer.
I would think the latter in this case, because this is good wine. To start with reversed negatives, it is neither over-oaked, nor does it present too much residual sugar. The wine is a fine light straw in color, a good conductor of light. The nose gave me first a rich, ripe mandarin orange, with grapefruit, pineapple, some mineral flint and hibiscus. Getting these nose notes was not a simple matter, but I believe Chardonnay should not be a nosy wine. My second nosing, I must admit after drinking, gave me more spice, particularly vanilla (which I don't smell readily).
In the mouth the wine is full-bodied, yielding a good match between taste and actual feel. It has fullness without feeling buttery, though it shows a little autolytic toast. The fruit is lime, grapefruit, pineapple, and ripe apple, with a touch of orange peel. The flinty minerality from the nose remains; the floral notes are less evident in the mouth. The finish is clean, warm, and dry with a touch of pleasant bitter minerality and clean fruit.
The wine has a solidity, an overt presentation of vinous assets, I associate with both the
positive and negative of California. In this case the bottom line is positive; this is not the kind
of wine you write off by calling it “sassy” or “brash,” despite the fact that the title “Full
Boat” is a slangy poker reference (to a full house: three of a kind and a pair). I'd never call
the wine French, but if someone told me the winemaker studied in Burgundy for a year or
two, I would take the statement in stride. This Chardonnay, though tasty and upfront, scores
well on the maturity index, and reveals excellent balance in all respects.
Verdict: Drinks Well
Central Coast California is a huge area, filled with large appellations, each comprised of choice wine pockets; the right grapes and the right techniques ratchet up quality nearly every year.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman