Au Bon Climat Chardonnay 1999
In 1982, Clendenen decided, along with Adam Tolmach, to start a winery dedicated to Burgundian varietals in leased quarters. Adam left in 1990 to pursue his own efforts leaving Jim solo at the helm. Through careful re-investment from its own production, Au Bon Climat (which means "a well exposed vineyard") has grown to over 50,000 cases annually.
Au Bon Climat sources fruit from several of the most highly regarded vineyards in the Central Coast. These include Clendenen’s own Le Bon Climat Vineyard and estate plantings at the legendary Bien Nacido Vineyard – both in Santa Maria Valley, along with Sanford & Benedict Vineyard in Sta. Rita Hills, Los Alamos Vineyard (Santa Barbara County), and San Luis Obispo County's Talley Vineyard.
The winery has cultivated an international reputation for its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. Jim Clendenen, the “Mind Behind” Au Bon Climat, is recognized worldwide for his classically styled wines. In addition to his Burgundian-focused Au Bon Climat wines, Jim also established another brand, Clendenen Family Vineyards. This project of passion allows him to make artisan, small lots of distinctive wines from a wider spectrum of varieties in styles conducive to small lots. He has received high acclaim for Italian varietals particularly his Nebbiolo that has a five year aging regimen in barrel.
California’s most praised white wine, Chardonnay is also the state’s most planted white grape variety. Diverse terrain and microclimates allow for an incredible range of wine styles.
Chardonnay planted in the cooler, coastal zones takes on bright characteristics like lemon zest, key lime, green apple and wet flint. For this style, look to the chilly Sonoma Coast, Carneros, Santa Cruz Mountains, Santa Lucia Highlands and Edna Valley.
The inland zones of California’s coast, such as the Russian River, Sonoma, Napa and Livermore Valleys maintain a more Goldilocks-esque climate where both styles go. Early picking retains acidity and creates a leaner style but leaving the grapes to hang creates an approachable Chardonnay, balancing richness and finesse.