Wine Review – 2005 Ojai Chardonnay, Santa Barbara, California

ojaichardA pairing of lobster and chardonnay are something I always hear people say are a supreme and classic pairing.  It’s one of those food and wine pairings that I’ve always wanted to try, but never had a chance to actually do.  When New Years Eve rolls around we always make sure to end the year with a cholesterol bang.  Steak, lobster, cheese, foie gras pate, you name it.  I know, sounds gross, but you just gotta do it.  Being that lobster was on the menu, I made sure to come home with a chardonnay, especially one that could not only pair with the lobster, but also with all the other artery cloggers on the table.

The 2005 Ojai Chardonnay from Santa Barbara, California was my choice for the evening.  Ojai wines are big, brawney, but stylish wines.  This goes for everything from their sauvignon blanc to their syrahs and even to their pinot noir.  I’ve had on several occasions their single vineyard chardonnays from Bien Nacido and Clos Pepe and man, are they dramatic.This bottling was what I expected based on my past experiences.  This wine was nice and toasty and had flavors of tart apples and supple pears.  The wine also had that wet stone character as well as a gunpowder kind of flintiness.  It was definitely a festival for the palate.

Adam Tolmach hard at work

Adam Tolmach hard at work

I was actually a little disappointed at the whole chardonnay and lobster pairing thing though, because it didn’t quite sync up like I expected.  I think with the natural sweetness of the lobster, you should probably go with a California style of chardonnay that exhibits a little more of the butter and butterscotch flavors some Cali chards display.

Ojai Winery was started by Adam Tolmach & Helen Tolmach back in 1983.  Their focus is on Rhone varietals as well as pinot noir and chardonnay.  Adam was an original partner with Jim Clendenen in the Au Bon Climat Winery, also located in the broad central coast region of California.  Eventually, winemaking philosophies between the two diverged and the two decided to split.  All you need to do to see why they probably split is taste an Ojai pinot noir next to an Au Bon Climat pinot noir and you will see that they are polar opposites in style.  Ojai definitely being big and brawney and Au Bon Climat more elegant and understated.

Ojai makes about 6,000 cases annually, so they are indeed on the smaller side of production.  Check with your local wine shops as well as online retailers and fine restaurants for these stylish wines.  I bought the wine at The Woodland Hills Wine Co for $26.99 + tax.


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