The Sean Minor 4B Chardonnay 2018 is 100% Chardonnay sourced from several contracted vineyards in California’s Central Coast AVA. Sean Minor Wines do not have their vineyards but have long term contracts with selected vineyards. They have a full line-up of wines from affordable White and Red wines to single-vineyard Pinot Noir, though they concentrate more value-priced wine.
You may remember this wine from when they were 4 Bears Wines, there is still a 4B on the label. The 4 Bears name came about when the Minors were tasting different blends of their wines. Something along the lines of one was too big, one was too small, and another was just right and their four-year-old thought the process reminded him of the story of the 3 Bears. Well, they had four kids and they couldn’t leave one kid out, so the wines became 4 Bears wine.
The 4B Chardonnay is made the way I usually like my Chardonnay, a little oak barrel, a little malolactic fermentation. A percentage of this Chardonnay was fermented in smaller French oak barrels with the rest fermented in stainless steel tanks. Oak barrels are of course watertight but they do allow a tiny amount of air transfer with the Chardonnay. Stainless steel tanks are watertight and airtight. Everything you do to the wine causes some sort of change, so the Chardonnay that had a tad bit of air contact will be different from the Chardonnay that was kept from oxygen exposure, And then there is the difference from a small barrel and a huge stainless steel tank.
That brings us to malolactic fermentation which is something that almost always occurs in Red wine. This is a process or a fermentation that takes the tart-tasting naturally occurring acid in the wine and converts it to a more rounded tasting acid. Most White wines want to keep the tart acidity, but Chardonnay that sees a bit of oak barrel conditioning responds well to Malolactic fermentation. Since only a portion of the wine saw oak barrels only a portion undergoes malolactic.
Producing a Chardonnay this way gives the wine varied flavors and complexity. Both tart and rounded flavors, some of that butter and vanilla that French oak brings to Chardonnay, but not too much. It is a style that gives a little bit of something for everybody. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
Chardonnay Tasting Notes
The color is bright and shiny butter yellow. The nose is ripe and juicy, there is apple, lemon, pear, peach lime, honey, apricot, and a floral edge. This wine has a nice rounded mouth-feel along with an interesting flavor profile. It tastes of melon and lemon mix, followed by grapefruit, a little honey, and pear. The mid-palate brings apple, a dash of butter, a little vanilla cream, and lime. There is also that salty, nutty thing from “on-lees”, but the tech notes didn’t mention “on lees”. The acidity is solid, enough to allow all the flavors to develop, but not enough to be sharp on the palate. The finish is full and lasts a decent length of time.
- The Sean Minor 4B Chardonnay 2018 is a tasty, well-priced Chardonnay (I found it on sale for $9.99). It is a well-made classic California Chardonnay.
- The Central Coast is a great place to find delicious value-priced wines. Yes, you can find Chardonnay from fancy well-known AVAs, but there is typically an additional price to pay for the famous growing regions. And these places do produce great Chardonnay, but when you need a tasty, well-priced, everyday Chardonnay the Central Coast AVA matches up well.
- This is one of those wines that get you reaching for your glass without actually thinking about it. Your brain just says MORE.