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2002 Three Saints Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara, California

Three Saints Vineyard is a small production vineyard that I really don't know much about. They make a Pinot, a Chardonnay, and a Cabernet (all of which I have seen on the market), but other than that I can't tell you much -- they're mostly under the radar for now.

So let's talk a little about the Santa Maria Valley instead. Home to the famous Bien Nacido vineyard, this is a low slung valley lies south of San Luis Obispo towards Santa Barbara. Set back away from the ocean, up against the foothills of the San Rafael mountains, it is blessed with moderate temperatures that make for one of the longest growing seasons for wine grapes in California. Part of the Santa Barbara County appellation, the two primary grape varietals grown there are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, both of which thrive in the cool ocean breezes that moderate what would otherwise be a pretty hot place. If you're interested in this area of California and its wines, check out the Santa Barbara Vintners Association.

I'm afraid I don't know much about the winemaking for this one, other than what I can taste, and that 70% saw new oak. At least a portion of the wine (but perhaps not all) has been put through malolactic fermentation. For a small production of 1000 cases, this is a superb value and should be snapped up by anyone who gets a chance.

As a side note, they also make a great value Pinot Noir as well.

Tasting Notes:
Non-descript in the glass, this wine barely registers any color at all. It's nose is also restrained, with breezy aromas of pears, minerals, and rain. In the mouth, though, it comes to life with flavors of cantaloupe, buttercream, toffee, and a hint of olives through to a clean, reasonable finish. The acid level and overall balance of the wine is perfect, and makes for a very pleasurable drinking experience.

Food Pairing:
This is a very versatile wine that can be easily paired with a lot of things, from heavy to light, spicy to buttery. I had mine with an Asian noodle dish not unlike this

Overall Score: 8.5/9

How Much?: $12.99

This wine is readily available on the Internet. Try Froogle or Wine Searcher.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.