Over the holiday season, I’ve been out in California soaking up some winter sunshine by the sea. I know, it’s a tough life.
One of my many California pleasures is to indulge in the Golden State’s abundance of wine. California’s output makes up 90% of all American wine produced, making it one of the largest regions in the world. From the famed Napa and Sonoma counties of Northern California to the Central Coast’s Paso Robles, Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez valley and beyond, California has a lot of wine to wet your palate with.
On this particular visit, I’ve been staying up in the small town of Cambria on California’s central coast; a rustic, earthy stretch of land rich in biodiversity, charm and incredible wine. Although not as famed as Napa and Sonoma, the central coast offers an array of remarkable wines, most of which come without the premium pricetags that you’d expect in Napa.
I’ve tried some fantastic wines on this stay, from rich and robust Cabernet Sauvignons and Petite Syrahs to Silky Pinot Noirs and delicate Sauvignon blancs. But my absolute favorite discovery on this particular trip is this 2011 “Butternut” Chardonnay.
Produced by California winemaker Tony Leonardi of the BNA Wine Group, “Butternut” Chardonnay is an extremely unique white wine with scents and aromas that will bowl your senses over. The grapes used in this “Butternut” Chardonnay have been sourced from a variety of different vineyards throughout the state giving it compelling diversity and a truly unique flavour profile. Its deep caramel and honey colour is vibrant and appealing to the eye… it’s almost as if you’re holding a bottle of honey or melted butterscotch rather than wine. Pungent, sweet aromas of hazelnut, caramel and spiced apple are long and lasting on the nose, enveloping the senses from the first to the final pour. On the palate, this full-bodied Chardonnay is incredibly rich and buttery (hence the name: don’t take it lightly). Its creamy and silky smooth consistency is complimented by flavours of butterscotch, toasted nut, peach and honeysuckle with a lasting oaky finish.
If you’re not into buttery, oaky Chardonnays then this wine might not be for you, but if you love richness and depth in your whites, then I couldn’t recommend “Butternut” more. There’s no doubting it, this Chardonnay has attitude and I like it! The flavours seem to intensify as you continue drinking, so I wouldn’t recommend having it with a rich or heavily seasoned meal as it may conflict with other flavours. Its robust and sparky qualities make it a perfect wine to be enjoyed on its own or paired with an nuts or light cheeses. I honestly can’t wait to crack open another bottle.
Upon further investigation into Tony Leonardi and the BNA group I have discovered that they also produce other wines under unique monikers. “The Rule” and “Volunteer” are the names of their Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons, and “Bandwagon,” is what they have coined their California-Oregon Pinot Noir as well as their Monterrey Chardonnay. Given how much I have enjoyed “Butternut” I think I owe it to myself to get a hold of the entire range. Tony Leonardi, thank you!
I bought my bottle of “Butternut” Chardonnay from Madeline’s Restaurant & Wine Shop in Cambria California for $25. If you can’t make it to Cambria, you can also buy “Butternut” directly from the BNA Group’s website.