Au Bon climat chardonnay santa barbara county - sustainable
The wine world took a collective gut punch when Jim Clendenen, the mind behind Au Bon Climat died in his sleep several months ago. Jim was a tireless, erudite, and very funny ambassador for making local expressions of old-world wine, and had been doing so quite successfully for over 40 years. I was lucky enough to know him a bit, and will always treasure the times we spent together.
Au Bon Climat was created to produce high-quality handcrafted wine from traditional Burgundian varietals. They are one of the few California wineries to explore the gamut of these varieties: Aligote, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. The winery is located within the Bien Nacido Vineyard, the source of much of their fruit.
Au Bon Climat has been making balanced, food-friendly Chardonnays since 1982. Even in the early 2000s when ripe, oaky Chardonnays were all the rage, Au Bon Climat stuck to a more subtle and refined style, with minerality and intensity.
The 2020 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay is a beautiful example of the Au Bon Climat style. The flinty, stony aromas stand out while in the background is a hard spice note from sur lees barrel aging. There are notes of lemon-lime and soft vanilla. With the first taste, it is irresistible. This is one of those wines that invites the consumer to have another glass. At this young age, this wine would be perfect with shellfish or poultry. It will improve for at least 10 years and as it evolves, try this wine with chanterelle mushroom pasta and be amazed.
Another in the long line of high-quality, hand-crafted, Santa Barbara County Chardonnays from Au Bon Climat. Santa Barbara County has the climate and terrior to allow Au Bon Climat to consistently make balanced and lively wines. This wine keeps on evolving, from delicious and fresh at release to a richer more complex wine with age. At the winery, we routinely drink the Santa Barbara County Chardonnays from the 1990s with special visitors to their delight. These 25-year-old wines complement many foods.
For this wine, ABC has used the same vineyards for a number of years - a blend is from four well-farmed vineyards: Bien Nacido, Sierra Madre, Los Alamos, and Rancho Vinedo. The average age of these Chardonnay plantings is more than 25 years, which is old compared to most vineyards in our area.
All the Chardonnay is carefully handpicked and sorted in the vineyard. After harvesting, the grapes are whole cluster pressed, and juice is quickly settled and chilled to begin barrel fermentation. The wine is dry and completed malo-lactic fermentation, then blended and processed the wine during the following summer.