Exciting times for Californian wines

2012 Sandhi, Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, California

2012 Sandhi, Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, California (£32.95, Roberson Wine, 020-7381 7877).

I haven’t been truly excited about Californian wine for well over two decades. Years ago, dearly departed Geoffrey Roberts shipped incredible Californian wines to the UK and we were all spoilt for choice.

In the intervening 25 or so years, Californian wine has lost its lustre in the UK thanks to exorbitant pricing and a scarcity of decent wine (they tend to keep the best wines to themselves).

This mood was lifted at a recent Roberson Wine tasting where 17 estates were on show under the banner ‘New California’. It was a triumphant event and I am fired up again about the excitement and class shown.

Change is happening, with lower alcohol and less oak. I also learned about the movement. You should have a read.

This devastating chardonnay, a product of a collaboration between Rajat Parr (wine director for the Michael Mina restaurant empire), Charles Banks (formerly managing partner at Screaming Eagle) and winemaker Sashi Morman is a case in point.

It shows as much finesse and élan as any chardonnay I can think of. I urge you to peruse the Roberson Californian collection – it is fascinating and rewarding in equal measure.

• Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (www.matthewjukes.com).

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