Oceano Chardonnay Spanish Spring Vineyard, San Luis Obispo County 2017

Deep gold color; green melon, lemon, honeysuckle, sea salt on the nose; lemon, lime, green apple, melon, grapefruit, saline, minerality, some toast and ginger on the palate.

Oceano Chardonnay Spanish Spring Vineyard, San Luis Obispo County 2017

Dry; sharp presentation of fruit; no malolactic fermentation. The vineyard is just 1.5 miles from Pismo Beach, so taste of the sea—saline—is prominent in the pour. Crisp acidity adds to the tart, salty impression. Medium-plus body; 13.6% ABV. Fresh with almost aloof elegance, balanced. Layers of flavor experiences. This is edgy wine, but if you are patient it will smooth out some with air, although never coming within hailing distance of soft and round or flabby.

The vineyard is on the southern edge of the Edna Valley. It is the closest vineyard to the Pacific Ocean in California. The strong influence of the ocean and the marine shale, limestone, sandstone, and fossilized-shell soil of the vineyard pumps up the intense minerality.

Chardonnay is extraordinarily versatile, an easy-to-grow grape that surrenders to the farmer and the winemaker to give it character. Chardonnay does do terroir well—presenting its climate and location when the winemakers get out of the way. Winemakers Rachel Martin and Marbue Marke got out of the way with this effort, allowing the individualistic vineyard to flaunt itself. Ocean breezes and morning fogs laced with sea spray salt, mineral-infused soils also influenced by Pacific saline, put Oceano Chardonnay in a distinctive niche that must be tasted to fully appreciate.

The husband-wife team of Rachel Martin and Kurt Deutsch founded Oceano Wines. They met by chance at a dinner prior to the screening of Deutsch’s feature film, “The Last Five Years” in 2014. Wait, let’s back up. Rachel Martin grew grapes and produced wines for more than 15 years at her family’s vineyard and winery, Boxwood Estate Winery, in Middleburg, Virginia. She and the vineyard/winery are sparkling lights in the burgeoning Virginia wine industry and helped Middleburg secure AVA designation. Led by Rachel, Boxwood is one of Virginia’s leading vintners.

Oceano–Rachel Martin, Kurt Deutsch

Kurt Deutsch career was as far away as you could get from mucking in a vineyard in the oppressive heat in Virginia in high summer. During a 15-year career as an actor in movies and television, he developed relationships throughout the entertainment industry. In 2000, Deutsch launched Sh-K-Boom Records to broaden the audience for original Broadway cast and Broadway performers. He won a Grammy. His acting and music producer career is a success.

Then cometh serendipity. Deutsch’s father, Gene, enjoyed a relationship with long-time neighbor, Henry Warshaw. Warshaw owns the Spanish Spring Vineyard, the sole source for the fruit that makes Oceano Chardonnay. Rachel met Kurt. Gene met Rachel. The rest is wine history, and you get to taste the intriguing result.

Oceano Chardonnay Spanish Spring Vineyard, San Luis Obispo County 2017 is a chardonnay you need to explore. It tastes much more like a French Chablis or Pouilly-Fuissé than a standard California effort, and decisively not like the once popular oak-and-butter mess. With its saline elements, this cries out for pairing with almost any fish, seafood, shellfish you can conjure. It likely will work with white meats, but why do that when you can so happily marry the feasts from water with a wine so expressive of the spray, foam, and fog of Pismo Beach? $38-43

Oceano Wines website

Oceano-Spanish Spring Vineyard
Oceano winemaker Marbue Marke