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Wines have a magical ability to evoke a sense of place, even more so than other food and drink. Perhaps it’s because of that fabled terroir, or simply the brain’s ability to connect scent and scene, combined with the serendipity of drinking a particular wine as a vivid memory is laid down. I am fond of Greek wines, and a retsina always evokes for me the experience of sitting in a roof garden in Athens, deeply jet-lagged, eating baked tomatoes with cheese and gazing at the glowing Parthenon as the sun set.

Photo: Flickriver

This wine comes from the Santa Maria valley, that beautiful area near Santa Barbara. Does it taste like Santa Barbara? I think so. It combines the flavors of fruit (so emblematic of fertile California) with the dryness and spare quality of the Mediterranean-type landscape, which always feels as though it is on the verge of returning to a desert. But a desert filled with hardy, succulent plants.


The maker describes this wine as “lush, elegant and graceful.” I couldn’t agree more. What a contrast to the Mer Soleil Chardonnay we had a few days ago. In that wine, the flavors were big but not coherent, with oak and tart/sweet apple competing for attention. In this wine, the oak is discreet and blends into the dry yet full Chardonnay flavors. This wine has been described as flinty and minerally, but I thought the emphasis was on fruit. As befits the beautiful land of its origin.