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Central Coast Chardonnay: The Chronicle recommends

There are oceans of Chardonnay in the long stretch between San Francisco and Los Angeles – including prodigious efforts from Monterey’s Santa Lucia Highlands and Santa Barbara County. Santa Barbara, in particular, is turning out nuanced efforts without the price tag that might accompany some North Coast bottles.

That said, messages about restraint might be filtering through slowly; too many of approximately 40 bottles tasted showed an excess of both oak and winemaking.

But when ripe fruit is allowed to take center stage – particularly from the subtle 2008 vintage – it offers a lot to please the armies of loyal Chardonnay drinkers out there.

2008 Gainey Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay ($23): From one of Sta. Rita’s popular names comes this blend, primarily sourced from Gainey’s Evan’s Ranch vineyard. A skillful, oak-focused style, with lots of ripe pineapple, apricot, slight toffee and a subtle wet-stone edge.

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Jon Bonné, January 30, 2011
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Central Coast Chardonnay: The Chronicle recommends