Wonderful! Rich and creamy without being a butterball—vino‘s answer to 2% versus whole milk, which is, in essence, Santa Barbara versus Napa Valley chardonnay. I find so much of Napa chard to be overwhelming in its ripeness and oak (e.g. Pahlmeyer, Peter Michael and Kongsgaard), I think the best of Santa Barbara County gets it just right. And ALMA ROSA is among the finest of white winemakers on the Central Coast, thanks to local pioneer winemaker Richard Sanford. Their entry level Chardonnay is a staple in our household, as it’s one of the best you’ll ever find in the $20 range, and, for some dollars more, the vineyard designated Chardonnay El Jabali gets you that much more elegance and sophistication to the honeyed lemon at its core. So artfully balanced and pure (made from organic grapes too). A role model for Santa Barbara’s modest and happy-to-be underrated supremacy. -J.M.
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Great Wine: Edge Cabernet Sauvignon