The Santa Barbara Landing Chardonnay 2014 is a $4.99 Trader Joe’s exclusive sourced from grapes grown in Santa Barbara County, California. Santa Barbara is about a 1 1/2 hour drive (north) from Los Angeles and would be too warm a place to grow grapes for fine wine, except for a bit of luck of geography. The grape growing region of Santa Barbara sits on a part of land that juts out into the Pacific Ocean, giving access to the cold ocean breezes on 2 sides. Those cool winds allow the grapes to ripen slowly, so this sunny Southern California region can grow the same grapes as Burgundy (Pinot Noir & Chardonnay) in north-central France, one of France’s cooler growing regions. Santa Barbara Landings is one of Bronco Wines many, many labels. You may think of Bronco Wines as 2 Buck Chuck, but they produce over 60 other labels and are known for giving bang for the buck. A typical entry-level Santa Barbara Chardonnay usually sells for about $12 and then goes up from there, so a 5 buck Chard is rare. The alcohol content is 13%.
The color is an extra virgin olive oil yellow, it is dark enough to have me wonder if it has been aged in oak barrels, which you wouldn’t expect for a $4.99 wine. The nose is light and delicate. all lemons and pears, with a little peach, a little spice, and a floral edge. This is a smooth, fairly silky Chardonnay. It tastes of peaches and cream, lemon curd, tart grapefruit, and green apple. The mid-palate adds soft spice and Bosc pear. The acidity is well-balanced by the body of the wine, it sips easy and will work well with food.The finish is full and long.
The Santa Barbara Landing Chardonnay 2014 does not taste like a $5 Chardonnay, and that is said knowing how good inexpensive wines have become in recent years. This is a label that has been around for a few years, so it does not seem to be the surplus of a more expensive wine, but it sure tastes that way. I am tasting cream and a little butter, all things that would suggest oak conditioning of some sort and it is not heavy-handed, there is a light touch to this wine. This is a very tasty 5 buck, single AVA Chardonnay.