Like a Christina Tosi creation, the surprising combination of flavors of a classic California-style Chardonnay are as counter-intuitive as they are delicious: ripe and maybe even somewhat baked apple, lemon curd, fresh coconut, buttery, toasty pastry, popcorn and rocks. And while the Crack Pie has not been around quite long enough to have a backlash, to have young pastry chefs sarcastically invoke it to ridicule another pastry chef’s creation, that day has long since come for California Chardonnay, and hopefully, it has moved on to a resurgence phase. We have long said, and sincerely meant, that “if it tastes good to you it’s good wine”, so let your CA Chard flag fly! Originally from Stockton, CA, Steve Fennell’s family grew grapes and during his time at UC Santa Barbara he fell in love with wine. After graduating with a degree in earth sciences, Steve studied enology and viticulture at UC Davis before working at Trefethen in Napa and then at Sanford Winery for over a decade as winemaker and vineyard manager before striking off on his own in 2019. The label says just Sta. Rita Hills, but this wine is actually a single vineyard wine from Peake Ranch, an up and coming vineyard. Steve doesn’t give the specifics of the percentage of new oak or toast level of his barrels, but it doesn’t dominate the fruit aspect of the wines, and the full malolactic conversion tames the cool climate acidity just enough to balance the richness of the wine. The intensity of flavor will make some seemingly strange pairings work, like Chilaquiles or Tom Kha Gai soup as well as grilled poultry and fish.