Babcock winery was founded in 1978 in California’s western Santa Ynez Valley by then restaurant owners Walt and Mona Babcock. After deciding to leave graduate school behind, their son Bryan jumped aboard the project and has since received several awards for his winemaking, including being named one of the “Top Ten Small Production Winemakers in the World” in 1995 by the James Beard Foundation. Today, Babcock produces 10,000 cases of Estate wines mixed with select vineyard holdings. The 2012 Chardonnay is just that, with a percentage of the wine coming from their esteemed Top Cream vineyard as well as other leading grape providers.
This is great small production Chardonnay that in my opinion does not cut any corners, especially coming from an entry-level spot in the winery’s repertoire. A blend of Chardonnay from their own Top Cream vineyard with Dierberg and Los Alamos selections, the 2012 Santa Barbara unfolds with ripe fruit and a creamy mid-palate: lemon curd and cooked apple with soft yeast elements reminiscent of a Burgundian approach. The finish is clean and crisp, which allows for a wide range of food pairings.
Seasonally speaking, not much gets me more “ramped” up than the onset of ramp season. These tasty wild spring onions do wonders for so many dishes and really set the tone for springtime in earnest. But buy them now—they’ll only be at farmer’s markets for a few weeks. I enjoyed the Babcock Chardonnay just the other night with seared soft shell crab and ditalini pasta (a short tube pasta) cooked in a sauce of pureed ramps and parsley with smoked bacon. The fresh herbaceous character of the sauce highlighted the lees from the wine and the addition of a little bacon really played up the wine’s body. It was delightful.