Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 50

that's also focused on local producers, with all the
options served on tap. I asked Olsson what he might
serve with some of the more chiseled styles of Sta.
Rita Hills chardonnay, wines of restraint, precision
and tension.
He considered going the seafood route, praising
how well sea urchins and oysters can complement
these wines. But when working with autumn flavors,
"things like salads are perfect for more austere, more
Chablis-like chardonnays," Olsson suggested.

between the towns of Lompoc and Buellton. Running east to west, the rare coastal transverse valley
exposes the vines to extreme maritime conditions.
"You have so much coastal influence that it really
preserves the varietal distinctiveness," Wathen said.
The ocean finds its way into the soils; much of the
Sta. Rita Hills' southern vineyards are composed of
marine shale and pockets of diatomaceous earth, a
silica-based soil comprised of fossilized algae. Combined, these influences yield chardonnays of strik-

"You have to be able to enjoy the simplicity
of the wine-which is not simple at all."
-Luca Crestanelli
His salad of apple, fennel, walnut
and parsley offers a range of sensations from each ingredient that succeeds in balancing beautifully. "The
fresh fennel has an anise flavor to
it that is a good counterpart to the
sweetness of the apple, the tartness
of the lemon juice and the richness of
the walnuts," Olsson said.
"You could use almost all of those
adjectives to describe chardonnay," he
continued. In a single Sta. Rita Hills
chardonnay, you can find an earthy
concentration, the impression of
sweetness, hard spice flavor and an
electrifying acidity that beams from
the glass and illuminates the salad at
hand.
Beyond taste, Olsson finds his
apple-and-fennel salad mirrors the
weight of these more restrained
chardonnays. "It's a very lean salad.
It's straight lined, not all curvy and
round, just like these chardonnays
aren't all curvy and round," he said.
At Industrial Eats, he offers Arcadian's
Clos Pepe Vineyard Chardonnay on
tap, suggesting it for the salad.
Back at S.Y. Kitchen, wine director
Bingo Wathen acknowledged that
"Fifteen years ago, Sta. Rita Hills
wasn't even on the map." Now its
wines are defined by its position on
the coast, the western edge of the
Santa Ynez Valley AVA, sandwiched

Luca Crestanelli

50

WINE & SPIRITS

OCTOBER 2017

ing character.
Whether from iconic vineyards such as Sanford &
Benedict, Clos Pepe and Rita's Crown, or from newer
plantings, the Sta. Rita Hills offers cool-climate chardonnays that seem to readily communicate nuances
of place. That's not just in the leaner styles. The Sta.
Rita Hills has one of the longest growing seasons in
California, with little fear of rainfall deep into the
autumn. So growers can choose to allow Brix levels to rise for weeks after most everyone else in the
state has brought in their chardonnay. Picked riper,
the chardonnay grapes still maintain their freshness,
creating rich wines that can handle more new oak,
more frequent bâtonnage and complete malolactic
fermentation.
For these fuller-bodied Sta. Rita Hills chardonnays, chef Crestanelli looks to richer local seafood
combined with autumn produce, offering his pappardelle with diver scallops, kabocha squash, oyster mushrooms and charred herb-infused olive oil.
"You need something rich to stand up to that type
of seafood," Wathen said of Crestanelli's diver scallops, pointing to Liquid Farm's Golden Slope Chardonnay as a counterpoint to the dish. While it's
the most robust Sta. Rita Hills chardonnay in the
Liquid Farm portfolio, Golden Slope maintains that
same acidic drive Wathen finds characteristic of the
appellation.
Regardless of degrees of Brix at harvest or barrel toast levels, Wathen finds a concentration of flavor in Sta. Rita Hills chardonnays that transcends a
winemaker's influence. "You can have rich chardonnays, but they're driven by this acidity," he says. "I
think that's what Sta. Rita Hills chardonnay represents. It's ripe. But it's balanced." ■



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Wine & Spirits - October 2017

Contents
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - Cover1
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - Cover2
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 1
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 2
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 3
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 4
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - Contents
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 6
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 7
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 8
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 9
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 10
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 11
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 12
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 13
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - 50
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Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - Cover3
Wine & Spirits - October 2017 - Cover4
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