I am frequently asked, “What is your favorite wine?” I always have a tough time answering this question. There are so many great wines, and our palates are always evolving; our favorite wine today might not be our favorite wine tomorrow. For me, the one thing that stays the same, is that I love wines that have balance. Often, I will describe wines we feature with adjectives like freshness, minerality or maybe finesse. These are descriptors that I think great wines should have, along with a “sense of place." While wines with high levels of oak, tannin or concentration are fun to taste and often receive high scores, they generally do not compliment food well and to me, that is the main function of great wine. This is why I have been a big fan of Sandhi Wines for so long. They say change happens in California quicker than in most parts of the world, and Rajat Parr and Sashi Moorman were two important people to shift California winemaking to a bit more of a “hands-off” approach.
“It is quite conceivable that within a few years the Sandhi Chardonnays and Pinots could become reference point, benchmark wines for Santa Barbara, and California, for that matter."
Antonio Galloni from the Wine Advocate
Sandhi Wines are made by Sommelier Rajat Parr and winemaker Sashi Moorman who specialize in Burgundian style Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Parr was a founder of an organization called “In Pursuit of Balance” and years ago would craft the well-known wine list at RN74 which contained 84 pages of wines under 14% alcohol. Viewers of Somm TV will recognize Parr from being on many shows. Moorman was making wines at a number of estates in California. Together, they shared the same vision, that wines should be balanced rather than simply full-bodied. They started Sandhi in 2010, by selecting grapes from choice vineyards in Santa Barbara County, with a focus on creating wines with finesse, minerality, acidity and structure. The wines were amazing from the start! Parr and Moorman have also collaborated with other wineries, including Domaine de la Cote and Evening Land.
At Sandhi, they produce Chardonnay and Pinot Noir but the Chardonnays tend to be better known. In many blind tastings, the Sandhi Chardonnays have been guessed as white burgundy, and to me their single vineyard offerings can stand up well against Premier Cru Puligny or Chassagne Montrachets. Today’s wine is the first vintage of Central Coast Chardonnay they released. This wine replaces their Santa Barbara County bottling which was always made with excess juice from their single vineyard wines. The reasoning in going to the larger appellation was not just price increases in the cost of grapes, but according to Parr, he wanted to work with the most sustainable growers possible and that took him a bit further out than before. Here is an interesting short video of Raj and the growers whose grapes go into this fantastic Chardonnay.
This Chardonnay is blended from several vineyards, including Bien Nacido, Phelan Farm, Spanish Springs, Talley and McIntyre. It is made exactly in the style Sandhi tries to achieve in all their wines — texture without excess weight, freshness and minerality, with modest alcohol. It is fermented and aged in older oak barrels to not impart any heavy oak flavors. The nose is full of apple and pineapple notes and the flavor is zesty and balanced with a nice core of minerality. Celebrate California Wine Month with us all September long!
91 Points - Wine Advocate
"This was previously called "Chardonnay Santa Barbara County," but winemaker Sashi Moorman says they've begun sourcing fruit from other areas of California like San Luis Obispo County and the Santa Lucia Highlands, so this will be known by the wider Central Coast appellation moving forward. The 2019 Chardonnay Central Coast opens with touches of flint, stone and white blossoms with crunchy tree fruits and bright citrusy accents. The palate is much more open-knit at this early stage, fleshing out to yellow apples and honey in a silky texture with bright freshness and a long, delicate finish." – Erin Brooks (10/2020)
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