Little Big Wines: Monterey County offers bottles as beautiful as its beach views

By Alison Bailin Batz

For anyone who watched “Big Little Lies,” the picturesque region that served as the backdrop for the award-winning series is among the premier destinations on the Central Coast of California and is often called an unofficial cast member of the show.

The county is diverse, including the iconic destinations of Big Sur, Carmel-by-the-Sea — where Clint Eastwood was once the mayor — and Pebble Beach. In addition to the natural beauty, the area is also a premium wine region. Here are some of our favorites to sip during the hot summer months.

2019 Golden Winery Chardonnay

Liquid gold in a bottle, this bright yellow white wine offers tropical fruit and stone fruit aromas on the nose, notably peaches, pineapple, papaya, apricot and even a hint of banana before giving way to notes of orange blossoms and cream. Expect a soft vanilla bean nuttiness to the taste, as well as another hit of tropical fruit. $12.99

Odd Lot Cabernet

Sauvignon-Syrah Blend

Odd Lot wines are unorthodox blends of bold red varieties. This combination is known for its blackberries, cherries and juicy plums with hints of tarragon and toasted vanilla on the nose, followed by a deep, ripe black fruit flavor on the palate and a smooth finish. $15

2020 Hahn Rosé

Don’t let the pale salmon color of this vibrantly acidic bottle fool you; this beauty is bursting with bright red cherries! Joining the cherries at the party in your mouth are raspberries and watermelon as well. The nose? Fresh and floral with definite rose. $15

Sunny with a Chance of Flowers Sauvignon Blanc

This wine is meant to reflect its name, offering a light, refreshing, joyful and cheery aroma and taste in every sip. The combination of ripe guava, crushed pineapple, ruby grapefruit and fresh cut summer grass is sure to make you smile on even the hottest of summer days. Bonus: It is only 85 calories per serving! $16.99

2019 EX Unoaked Chardonnay

Bright and direct thanks to being aged for three months in stainless steel, this deceptively rich unoaked chardonnay is a best bet when hot and humid, thanks to its subtle tropical notes, especially guava, banana and crispy green apple. There is some acidity at the finish, but more to balance the flavors versus impugn on the palate. $19

2018 Kali Hart Chardonnay

The most fruit-forward chardonnay in the brand’s award-winning portfolio, this offering is meant to be exceptionally drinkable and refreshing. Succeeding on all levels, enjoy notes of ripe stone fruit and juicy tropical as well as Madagascar vanilla from start to finish here. $20

Holman Ranch

2018 Virgin Chardonnay

Hello, passion fruit! The sweet yet tart sister to citrus fruit makes herself known here, before combining with cooling melon and fresh lemon on the nose. The 2018 Virgin Chardonnay shows an aroma of passion fruit, melon and fresh lemon. The palate provides an unexpectedly silky mouthfeel characterized by flavors of guava, tropical fruits and lemon cream, punctuated by fresh, clean acidity. $26

De Tierra 2019 Rosé

With a bottle as delicate and lovely as this, you are likely expecting a quiet, subtle wine. Surprise! Looks are deceiving here, as the nose delivers immediate lime zest, fresh peaches and honeydew melon. Upon tasting, get ready for some bright acidity followed by grapefruit and rosé flavors before enjoying a little nuttiness on the finish. $29

2019 Chalone Vineyard Estate

Pinot Noir

There is a lot going on flavorwise here, but in a good way. First, there are both boysenberry and raspberry jams on the nose and to the taste. Then, expect what tastes a bit like graphite or even chalk, giving it a deeper minerality. Finally, as if knowing it is the encore, a sweetened spice makes its way to your taste buds, beckoning you to take another sip. $40

2018 Smith & Hook Reserve

This truly magical cabernet starts with an explosion of black and blue fruits, followed by a bounty of berries. Then, all at once, there is a pop of sweet cherry candy and then earthy dried herbs. The wine is in constant motion, playfully dancing across the palate until it dissolves into dusty, fine tannins. $45

Silvestri 2018 Rising Tide

Pinot Noir

Science and art are at their best here, working together to make each sip as balanced as it is silky and rich. Expect allspice and vanilla to combine and work in perfect harmony with cherry and raspberry on the nose and for the tastes somehow managing to avoid overpowering each other. $45

2018 Folktale Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay

The Santa Lucia Highlands are world renowned for producing some of California’s best chardonnay, thanks to the cool climate. This is one of the finest, especially for those who love Meyer lemon, stone fruit and toasted almonds. $48

2018 Lucienne Smith Vineyard Pinot Noir

Fragrant aromas of red currant, blueberry and toasty oak will dance across your nose as you bring this pinot to your lips. Upon tasting, expect the red currant to turn to red cherry on the palate, as well as flavors of black plum, spicy clove and just enough cinnamon to give the wine a layered finish. $50

Caraccioli Cellars Brut Rosé

One of the most popular sparkling options in the region, this varietal is as elegant as it is effervescent. At first blush, it isn’t name any differently than the brand’s Brut Cuvee using 60% chardonnay and 40% pinot noir grapes. The magic happens when the winemaker hand-selects one perfect barrel of pinot to be used, resulting in a fuller fruit profile. $59