When I buy wines from California, I ordinarily buy according to appellation rather than producer. If the label states merely "California" as the appellation, it means that the grapes can come from anywhere in the state, and that usually means the cheapest grapes available. The Santa Rita Hills is an area that has developed a reputation for producing high quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and grapes from the appellation command a correspondingly higher price. Even compared to the surrounding Santa Barbara appellation, the soil and the cool climate in the Santa Rita hills produce distinctive wines. That's why I bought this $7 Chardonnay from Trader Joe's. And it did not disappoint.
Medium deep yellow/gold. Very powerful aromas: flowers, pears, Granny Smith apples. Cool climate acidity. Meyer Lemon, sea salt and flowers; very intense, aggressive flavors from front to back. Not your typical California Chardonnay; could even be mistaken for a Sauvignon Blanc. But very distinctive and very good for a cool climate Chardonnay.