One of the qualities I respect in sommeliers, wine journalists, and other persons in the trade is the ability to comment on the quality of a wine that does not fit within their own preferences. For example, I appreciate some opulent and rich styles of Chardonnay, but that list is a rather short one. I get a big kick out of wines from Meursault, one of the famed areas in Burgundy for a richer style of Chardonnay. But even within this category, the wines I appreciate are those that strike a balance between richness, acidity, and minerality. Unlike many persons with whom I chat about wines, I don’t maintain a personal taste or attachment to richer styles of Chardonnay that rely on new oak flavors and creamy textures. However, that does not mean I don’t put forward to constantly taste these wines to pinpoint the “good ones.”
Sbragia is one of the good ones. Ed Sbragia (founder) garnered fame and acclaim for the work he did as vintner for Beringer. Today, Sbragia Family Vineyards, located deep in Silverado road off Highway 101 in Sonoma, is the source of red and white wines that represent the pinnacle of rich and opulent California styles. I am most familiar with Sbragia’s various bottlings of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, though they also do some fine work with Zinfandel, in its trademark full California style.
The 2012 Sbragia “Home Ranch” Chardonnay is an excellent representation of the producer’s general style. The wine maintains significant palate weight, creamy texture (indicative of full malolactic fermentation), and features extremely ripe and tasty green and tropical fruit flavors. Apricot and Pineapple stand out, alongside a marked honeyed flavor. Some of the flavor profiles I’ve read online mentioned marmalade as a distinctive flavor, which seems pretty spot on. It doesn’t seem difficult to find these styles of New World Chardonnay in local wine shops, but it does seem more rare to find one at an attractive price point. We sell the bottle for $19.99, which is a great price for a wine of this caliber.
So, while I do get excited about finding regions and specific bottles that work for my own tastes, I also find joy in being able to refer consumers to wines they love, which I might never buy for myself. I suppose it’s all in an effort to become the most helpful wine professional I can be, who never feels inclined to tell someone they are misinformed for liking or buying a certain wine. But do us all a favor and don’t buy a bottle of…