Saturday, April 30, 2011

Spirit of Wine Review & Rating: **** $ Firestone Vineyard Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills, Rancho Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara, CA, 2006 - BEST VALUE

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By way of background: Firestone Vineyard Chardonnay, 2006, hails from Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, CA, and more specifically, from Rancho Santa Rosa. Ultimately finished at a potent 14.5% alcohol, the fruit for Firestone Chardonnay was hand harvested in early October at Rancho Santa Rosa. After light pressing and cold settling, the wine was fermented in a combination of French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. The wine was then aged sur lie for 10 months in French oak barrels, 30% of which were new. That processing should generate a silkier-style chardonnay, perhaps with vanilla or butter or caramel overtones. Let's see...

In the glass: Firestone Chardonnay shows as a light lemon yellow with gold highlights.

On the nose: Poured without a decant and swirled vigorously, the bold aromas remind me of slicing a quartz rock thin, putting it in the toaster, then buttering it for breakfast. Of course you might want to squeeze just a drop of lemon on it too!

On the palate: First note is the smooth, slick, lightly sweet middle - slightly buttered citrus fruit rolls along your tongue. Touches of apple and pear then squeeze into your cheeks, burrowing with a light creamy acid sensation.

And the finish: Holds poised for quite awhile, with solid acids and pear.

In summary: Bold, invigorating, yet still mellow and accessible, experience overall. I would definitely be in the market for trying this again, so three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, but a plus must be added for its compelling, big-ole-time-chard style. Outstanding value.

After long decant,  two days under vacuum in a partial bottle... aromas have held steady, palate takes on even a bit more mineral. Still absolutely solid!

Updated Review, over a year later, April, 2011:  Color is consistent, solid yellow.  So is the nose: buttery quartz!  Sweet roundness first touches the palate, bringing along all the elements from the earlier tasting.  I do believe that, with the extra age, I'd hang with this for the evening, so bumping it up a half-notch to four stars.  Still an awesome value!

Find Firestone Santa Rita Chardonnay prices and retail availability.

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