2013 Sinor-LaVallee San Luis Obispo County Chardonnay

SKU #1279333 93 points Wine Enthusiast

 Using fruit mostly from the Bassi Ranch property he recently acquired, Mike Sinor delivers a bright, minerally wine, with aromas of scratched grapefruit skin, orange and peach juice, burned lemons, sea salt, ripe apples and nectarines and fresh-cut herbs. Flavors of salty, lime-juice nectarines emerge once sipped, with hints of butter and white flowers.  (11/2015)

90 points Vinous

 Light, bright yellow. Fresh Meyer lemon, pear and jasmine scents are underscored by a zesty mineral quality. Taut, racy and precise, showing firm grip to its spicy citrus and orchard fruit flavors. In a bright, nervy style, with very good closing cut and resonating minerality. While he maintains his day job as winemaker for Ancient Peaks, Mike Sinor has also been accelerating his efforts at his own winery, which he owns with his wife Cheri LaVallee. Sinor was the winemaker at Domaine Alfred (now called Chamisal) from 2000 to 2006 and his own wines, which emphasize elegance over power, reflect his work there, as well as his six years as assistant winemaker at Byron. In 2013 Sinor and LaVallee bought a 13-acre vineyard near the coast that they have named Bassi; the wines reviewed here were all made from fruit grown on their land.  (6/2015)

K&L Notes

Can a Chardonnay please both the bigger is better and also the balance above all else crowds? If there ever was one the 2013 Sinor-LaVallee San Luis Obispo Chardonnay may be just that golden ticket. This Chardonnay is made by Mike Sinor, who has made over 20 vintages in the Central Coast and currently also makes wine for Ancient Peaks, from his estate vineyard named the Bassi Vineyard. Outside of any major AVA, the vineyard is situated near the village of Avila Beach only 1.2 miles away from the Pacific Ocean, Mike chose to just simply label the wine San Luis Obispo County, a humble name for a wine this powerful and intriguing. Fermented entirely in oak, both French and American, this Chard sees twice a month battonage to help build texture and weight into the natural vibrancy of this coastal site. (Bryan Brick, K&L)

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Price: $21.99
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Staff Image By: Andrew Stevens | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/11/2017 | Send Email
An exceptionally well-made Chardonnay from a winemaker whom we have long been a fan of, this offering from Mike Sinor strikes a beautiful balance on almost every front. Buttery vanilla on the nose leads one to expect a richer wine, but instead this bottle shows a more racy, elegant side. Acid and oak work in harmony and carry the citrus and stone fruit here. A little maritime note from the seaside adds a touch of exoticism to the wine and really rounds everything out.

Staff Image By: Shaun Green | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/10/2017 | Send Email
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California Chard lovers rejoice! Here's a rich and wonderful Chard at an incredibly good price. With a Ripe pear and beeswax nose, lovely peachy fruit and a note of brulee on the palate showing a little creamy oak from the French and American barrels. Nicely powerful but mercifully avoiding the RS trap. It's a crowd pleaser and a very well made wine.
Top Value!

Staff Image By: Keith Palace | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/10/2017 | Send Email
This is a lovely wine for under $25. The nose has some white pepper and toasted creme brulee notes while the body is very rich yet clean. The finish is nice and long with a slight hint of sweetness. Get some of this one before its gone!

Staff Image By: Gary Norton | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 11/30/2016 | Send Email
The Sinor LaVallee SLO County Chardonnay expresses richer tropical fruit notes such as Autalfo mangos and yellow pineapple plus the addition of torched marshmallow, crème brûlée, and baking spice. It's a lush and heavy wine with enough acid to keep it balanced. A phenomenal wine from the quaint little coastal town of Avila Beach, California.

Staff Image By: Bryan Brick | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 11/30/2016 | Send Email
Butterscotch, kettle corn, and notes of grilled peach and vanilla bean fill the intense and fleshy nose. But as soon as you taste this one has to also be impressed with how balanced it is. Freshening up a touch on the entry with lovely lemon meringue and key lime pie flavors that ride over more oak laden tones of stone fruit, shortbread and peach cobbler this is impressively rich and somehow lifting as well. With just enough acid to keep it moving along briskly, plenty of weight to impress the “big” Chardonnay crowd and intense tropicality with lychee, mango and nutmeg flavors in the finish this is a pleasing wine for just about any Chard fan out there.

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- It's hard to believe that up until about 30 years ago, this extremely popular varietal hid behind the veil of geographical names like Chablis and Puligny-Montrachet. Now grown all over the world and bottled by its varietal name, Chardonnay has achieved a level of branding unlike any other wine. Surprisingly, though, what you get when you buy Chardonnay can differ greatly from country to country and even within one country, depending on the climate where it's grown and how it is vinified and aged. From fresh, crisp and minerally with apple and lemon notes to rich and buttery with tropical fruit overtones, Chardonnay runs the gamut. In France's Burgundy, Chardonnay is the source of the prized wines of Chablis, Corton-Charlemagne, Mâcon, Meursault and Montrachet. It also the foundation of exceptional Champagne, where it is blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier or vinified on its own into Blanc de Blancs. It is also extremely popular in California, and is gaining popularity in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain and South Africa.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year.
Specific Appellation:

Santa Maria/Santa Barbara

- Santa Maria and Santa Ynez make up the two AVAs of Santa Barbara County, an area known for its natural beauty and temperate climate. The best grape-growing areas, however, are located on the very coastal reaches of these two appellations, and are cooled by ever-present fog and ocean breezes (it is even cooler and foggier here than Carneros!). As expected, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir thrive while the more inland zones lay claim to Bordeaux varietals and some Rhône blends.