Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Sea Smoke Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay Voyageurs Restaurant

Sea Smoke Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay at Voyageur's Restaurant

During a getaway week on the Gulf Shore we dined at Voyageur's Restaurant, Orange Beach, Alabama.

For entree Linda had from the daily fresh catch, Gulf Grouper - pan roasted carbo grouper with smoked harissa polenta cake, romancesco, rock shrimp & green tomato chow chow.

I had the Pan Seared whole Flounder. Prior to dinner we had the wedge salad and I had the Foie Gras.

To accompany the fresh seafood, we ordered from the award winning winelist a robust ultra-premium Santa Barbara County Chardonnay.

With my Foie Gras, I ordered from the winelist BTG - By the Glass, the Cain Cuvee from their extensive vertical collection of Cain Five and Cain Cuvee sourced through a direct relationship with the producer.

Sea Smoke Vineyards Santa Rita Hills Estate Chardonnay 2019

Sea Smoke in Santa Barbara County produce Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grown exclusively on their estate vineyards in the heart of the Sta. Rita Hills appellation.They focus on the meticulous management of each vine to achieve optimal vine balance and very low yields.

The name Sea Smoke refers to the coastal fog that wafts inland along the East/West running valley of the Santa Ynez river, a rare phenomenon in the U.S. Instead of the maritime influence being held back by the coastal mountain range, its influence rushes through the valley and into the vineyards.

Their ultra-premium wines have an almost cult-like following with much of their wine production allocated to their club mailing list. Every single bottle is made from the estate grown fruit, there is no purchased or contract grown fruit, even as demand far outstrips supply. 

Shown 2020 vintage label
from our cellar
A local wine merchant in the area wrote about this label, "For the first time ever, we got our hands on Sea Smoke’s elusive, exclusive and exquisite Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay, the famous cool climate Chard that helped propel this tiny winery into the elite stratosphere and cult status. Made with Dijon and Wente clones, they use stainless steel as well as French oak foudres and demi-muids to ferment their Chardonnay which brings out elegance and a laser-focused Chardonnay."

Another merchant reseller writes, "We have represented Sea Smoke for well over 10 years. This 2019, quite frankly, blew us away. We told the owners and the staff at Sea Smoke that we feel this is the best vintage of chardonnay that they have ever produced (and we have tasted every vintage.) This wine strikes an ideal balance between richness and crispness, with a strong backbone of minerals. The flavors unfold in layer after layer. If you like a chardonnay that does not weigh down your palate, but is still mouth-filling and enticing, this one’s for you. Very cellar worthy." 

Winemaker's notes: "Our estate-grown Chardonnay fruit was picked and hand-sorted in the vineyard before spending the night in our cold room. Chilled grapes were softly pressed and the juice was gently pumped into a stainless steel tank and cold settled. Once the heavy solids were removed, the juice was racked to a stainless steel fermentor, then inoculated for primary fermentation. Following primary fermentation, the wine was racked to barrels, inoculated for malolactic fermentation, then periodically stirred to enhance depth and mouthfeel. The 2019 Sea Smoke Chardonnay was aged for a total of 10 months prior to bottling with no fining and no filtration."

"Character: An elegant Chardonnay with aromas of orange zest, ripe melon and honeysuckle. Complemented by mango and a slight nuttiness in the focused mid-palate and the refreshing cool climate acidity of our estate vineyard."

Golden straw colored, medium bodied, crisp smooth balanced refreshing pear and apple fruits with notes of lemon zest, melon and nuts, turning to a polished acid laced finish. 

RM 92 points.