Monday, March 17, 2008

Edna Valley Vineyard Edna Valley Chardonnay Paragon Vineyards, 2005

Winemaker Harry Hansen says his primary goal with this Chardonnay is to emphasize the "sense of place"--the unique aromas and flavors that derive from Edna Valley, with its long growing season and cool breezes from the Pacific Ocean. The soil consists of layers of clay and volcanic rock over ancient ocean subsoil.

A great deal of the character of this Chardonnay, however, comes from techniques that are common among New World winemakers: barrel fermentation and malolactic fermentation for the rich, creamy texture and new oak barrels for buttery tropical fruit aromas and flavors. 90 percent of the wine is matured in new oak; 10 percent in stainless steel.

It's a deep gold, and the buttery scents and flavors are well developed. This wine is more mature than I would expect from a 2005, and it is drinking very nicely right now. Aromas and flavors of white peaches, apricots, citrus and butterscotch--friendly and open. It's a fat wine with low acidity, but the assertive fruit flavors are strong enough to stand up to shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce. And they add a slight mineral spiciness of their own. For my tastes, I would prefer a bit more of this spiciness and a bit more acidity.

Edna Valley Chardonnay usually retails for about $15 but is often offered for $12.99 at Cost Plus World Market--a good value. I bought mine from D&W Fresh Markets in Kalamazoo for $10.99--an even better value. And I recently saw the 2006 on sale for a comparable price.

I used to age Edna Valley Chardonnary for five years or longer, but the maturity of this bottle indicates that the wine should be consumed as early as possible.


  1. Golly Fred. Edna Valley is right up my alley. It appeared to be watered down for a bit so I I shall return and try taking note that it is a 2005! Went to a Chicago steakhouse (next door to Bin 36!) and had the best vino of the night - all night. Seriously, our waiter, Matt, who is 32 and has been there 10 years really knew his stuff. We had a conversation and he brought a Keenan Merlot. Divine! Phenom. Incredible. Did I mention that we really liked the wine?! Love your blog...still!

  2. I had you in my mind when I brought out the Edna Valley. I liked the 2003 Edna Valley Chardonnay better, I think. It had a bit more intensity. I have one more bottle of the 2003 and am not really worried about it getting tired because it had good acidity. The 2005, I think, probably needs to be drunk over the next year.

    I haven't had a Keenan wine in ages, but I think I still have a bottle of the 1978 Keenan Cabernet, which was an enormous wine 25 years ago...and still was the last time I tried it about 10 years ago.

  3. It is bound to be delish! Well, at the very least, being that old, and having been enormous, it should be good!

  4. Hi, I a student from Sweden writing about the wine geology of Pinot Noir in Edna Valley and I am trying to order wine so I can test it. I have emailed Edna Valley wineyards but no reply for over a week and I could use some help. You seem to know your stuff so do you have a tip on which Pinot Noir I should get thats produced by Edna Valley wineyard and grown in Edna ranch and Tolosa, I need wine from each site cause I took soil samples there. If you know anything I would be eternally greatfull.
    Best regards,

  5. Hi Suzana,
    Thanks for your comment. Edna Valley Vineyards has an estate Pinot Noir with "Paragon Vineyards" on the label. It's widely available through wine stores here such as Bassin's MacArthur in Washington, D.C. or my wine store, Village Corner in Ann Arbor, MI. I mention the D.C. store because they may be better able to hook up with overseas shipping for you.

    I suspect the Pinot you're talking about, though, is this one from Tolosa Vineyards:

    I haven't seen this label in my area, but the website tells me you can order the wine through

    I must be doing something right if I've convinced you that I know my stuff. But I'd really like to learn more about wine geology. I'd be pleased to have a post on the topic from you, or at least additional comments.

    Thanks again for your comment.
    Fred McTaggart

  6. Suzanna:
    Here's the website for Tolosa Winery:

    Apparently, you can purchase wine directly from the winery. This Pinot is $30. Sounds tempting. If you get one, I'd love to have a tasting note.

  7. Thank you so much!!! You are a life saver! I will do you one better than a post. I will send you the whole paper when it's done in June. It's written in english so you will be able to read it. Tomorrow I will try to order my wine, and again, thank you.

  8. Suzana,
    As it turns out, Bassin's MacArthur Beverages in D.C. does not have the Edna Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir. But you can find a list of stores selling either of these wines at Just type in the name of the wine and press the search button. Winesearcher even lists European sources, when available, but I don't see any for either the Edna Valley or the Tolosa.

  9. Hi again, you are to kind finding out all the information. In Sweden we have Systembolaget that sells alcohol and they have monopoly on it, therefor they must order anything the consumer whant and they don't sell. Lucky for me I apparently can order it from Sweden. I will be in touch and let you know how it goes.