We are normally a bit skeptical of barrel fermented and barrel aged Chardonnay for fear that the oak treatment will mask the delicate fruit and sense of place we feel the wine should exhibit. We have less fears when the wine comes from one of our favorites, the powerhouse producer, O'Neill Vintner's. O'Neill serves as a winemaking facility for those who can't afford to build their own. Their customers are normally craftsman with a dream of picking the best grapes and doing their best with them. By, in essence, renting a state-of-the-art facility, like O'Neill, they can concentrate on making wine instead of all the other things that get in the way, like bills.
Geneseo was one of the first winegrowing districts in California. Grapes were planted here in this Paso Robles district in 1886. That was nearly 100 years before it was discovered as a jewel for many of our finest wineries. Since then over 400 wineries have used a Paso Robles address. Several appellations were selected for this gem including Monterey, Clarksburg and the Sacramento Delta. The cool climate Monterey grapes added the bright acidity while the other two the fleshy fruit and power. Spending only seven months in used oak barrels added a layer of complexity and nuance without masking the shy nuances we've come to expect.
The result is a commanding selection offering Asian pear and Fuji apple notes along with caramel and lemon peel. Matching with large and lovely dishes like lobster thermidor or a crab enchilada would be divine.