WINE REVIEW: Ancient Peaks 2020 Chardonnay ‘Santa Margarita Ranch’, Paso Robles, CA ($19)
by Andrew Chalk
Appearance: Light straw color;
Nose: Light oak, wet concrete, white flowers;
Palate: Crisp, lean style. A taste marked by herbaceousness, embodying citrus and pineapple.
Something needs to be said about the single vineyard from which the grapes for this wine were grown.
Paraphrasing the winery...
The Santa Margarita Ranch is one of the most historic cattle ranches in the state of California, but the owners set aside 900 acres of it to grow grapes; the result is Margarita Vineyards and Ancient Peaks Winery. The vines unfold from a rare quintet of five distinct soil types—ancient sea bed, rocky alluvium, shale, volcanic and granitic. The resulting wines express flavors that are native to the region.
“The rest of the estate remains a cattle ranching operation, however, for the families running the business, it has always been more about cultivating and protecting the land and the agrarian lifestyle. From rotational grazing patterns within their cow calf program, the legacy of Santa Margarita Ranch has been to maintain the sustainability of the land for future generations”
This wine is unusual for California due to its low alcohol (13.5%), minimal oak, and lean style. These qualities also make it broadly compatible with food. Poultry, fish, and pork are all good candidates.