UPDATE – I made an error concerning the vintage of this Chardonnay. It’s actually the 2007 since Cantara did not actually make an ’08. Thanks to Mike Brown (winemaker) over at Cantara for the correction.
I’m going to start a category called “Little Known” for wineries that are very small, below the radar, off the beaten path, or have little to no budget for advertising and so rely pretty much solely on word-of-mouth and (if they’re lucky) a “Wine Trail” pamphlet for their region in order to sell product.
In case you haven’t noticed, I tend to like these wineries. While they tend to have fewer bottles offered under $20, they often have impeccably-crafted wines offered at ridiculously low prices. The adverbs in that last sentence will really piss off my writer friends, so I hope you enjoyed it due to the tongue-lashing I’m about to take.
Also in case you haven’t noticed, Cantara Cellars is one of the kinds of wineries I’m speaking of. Cantara gets all of its fruit from Lodi, a region near the bloated Napa and Sonoma regions of California that forces my tax bracket to budget a yearly trip to get up there and visit them. However, the tasting room (and their home base) is located on what is known as the Ventura County Wine Trail. Hooray for a wine trail less than 2 hours from my house! (*cricket chirps*) Moving on.
Cantara got it’s start by getting away with what I’ve been arrested for: Making wine in your home’s garage. I guess they threw fewer “Chug from the Barrel!” parties. They even named it after the neighborhood they used to concoct this hooch in. My wife and I found them while staying at the awesome Glen Tavern Inn in Santa Paula, CA. We were desperate to taste some vinos and plugged “winery” into our GPS and , low and behold, a winery tasting room popped up in the midst of a non-descript office park. Seriously, you drive toward the area they are located in and you begin wondering whether you are actually visiting a tasting room or going to complain at a Time Warner Cable satellite office. It was there that we found the Ventura County Wine Trail brochure and learned that it crawls all the way up to Ojai, where we found more small wineries and tasting rooms (more on that later). Since then we were able to taste their delicious wines a second time at the Malibu/Calabasas Food & Wine Festival.
In conclusion, these people are the salt of the modern-day-wine-making-earth. And their wine kicks ass.
So let’s get into the Cantara Cellars Chardonnay:
Golden, solid, textbook. Makes you confident that you are in fact drinking Chardonnay (I hate this section of the reviews).
Wait a minute, is this…is this really what I’m smelling? A wine that actually smells like lemon meringue pie? Cream, lemon, acid, full. Delicious nose.
The flavors match the nose in a step-by-step fashion. Bright lemon, some green apple, some white fig for a good mix of acid and fullness. Rich mouthfeel. Velvety but not buttery, just like a light pie crust. Great mid-palate of what seems to be cinnamon and a bread-like finish. Nice sourdough at the end. Weird but intriguing and great.
A very food-friendly wine. Thanks to the acid it won’t overpower already-buttery dishes. Chicken or Salmon Picatta, shellfish, savory crepes and the like. Not for an appetizer. This is Main wine.
Where to Buy
$21 at CantaraCellars.com. Yes, that’s the winery website, and yes I realize that it’s over $20. But it’s a buck. Dig through your sofa cushions.
Winery/Tasting Room Info
126 N. Wood Road #104
Camarillo, CA 93010
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