by Fred McMillin
for April 15, 1998

What's "Balance"?


In producing our very first wine, EOS Estate '96 Chardonnay, achieving BALANCE was our ultimate and deliberate goal.

...Tom Eddy, EOS Winemaker

The Rest of the Story

What is "balance?" Author James Laube says, "A wine has balance when its elements are harmonious and no single element dominates." What are those elements? The legendary British Master of Wine Michael Broadbent included fruit, acid, tannin and alcohol. None should dominate, or be lacking. The leading Canadian expert, Andrew Sharp, includes aroma also. I.e., a good-tasting wine that lacks aroma in not well-balanced. Australia's gifted Dr. Max Lake even quantifies some of the elements required for balance saying that a minimum acidity of around 0.6% is necessary or the wine will be flat and out of balance.

So how did Tom Eddy avoid any undesireable excesses or deficiencies? Well, he fermented part of the wine in stainless steel, part in French oak and part in American oak. He put part through malolactic fermentation to add a "faint note of butterscotch" and part bypassed the malo step. He's in agreement with Dr. Lake; the wine's acid content is reported as 0.69. So, if you want to try a Chardonnay with BALANCE, here it is!

The Wine

'96 Chardonnay, Premier Vintage, Paso Robles
EOS Estate Winery, Paso Robles, CA.
Vineyards—187 acres, including 60 of Chardonnay
Owners- Vernon Underwood Family (majority owners of the large Young's Market wholesalers); the Arciero Family (of the Arciero Winery); Kerry Vix (Arciero Winery)
Contact—Rusty Eddy, (707) 462-7196 or (800) 249-9463
Tasting Notes—As advertised, many flavors with none dominating; plenty of vigor to pair with chargrilled salmon (at Scott's on Lombard in San Francisco), ham or veal.
Price -$15


As for the winery name, Eos was the Greek Goddess of Dawn, each morning gently lifting the sun over the horizon [to shine on vines].

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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