Center of Effort is arguably the strangest name for a winery I’ve encountered in 20+ years of writing about wine, but I’m told that the name of the San Luis Obispo-based operation “references a sailing term which is the point on the sail where the forces come together and act as a whole.”
Center of Effort — or COE — takes winecraft seriously, and in a recent Zoom event a bunch of wine nerds were treated to a walkthrough of the four aging vessels COE uses to make its flagship chardonnay, courtesy of a variety of barrel samples from the 2020 vintage. CO’s 2015 chardonnay was aged in 30% new French oak, 10% concrete egg, 2% acacia barrels, and the rest used French oak. Tasting the samples was highly instructive — though always complicated by youth — with the acacia really standing out, offering a sultry honeycomb element that was absent in the other samples. I can see why this is used as a “salt and pepper” element in the final blend.
As for the finished product from 2015, it’s got a huge attack up front that offers bright tropical fruit and tons of orangey citrus, fading into gentle coconut and unctuous vanilla notes as it develops in glass. There’s invariably a ton of acidity in the mix, however, its fruit unyielding as builds to a lively, fresh finish. The balance between lush, ripe fruit and bold, creamy body is spot on. At this price level, it’s hard to find a better performing chardonnay.
A / $35 / centerofeffortwine.com