Au Bon Climat Chardonnay 2021


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Au Bon Climat was founded in Santa Barbara in 1982 by the late Jim Clendenen and his then partner Adam Tolmach (who would later leave to go on to found The Ojai Vineyard). As a French speaker who had both traveled widely and had significant internships in Burgundy, Jim was uniquely positioned relative to many of his peers in California at the time--to his wit anyway. He knew precisely what was entailed by Burgundian winemaking choices like stem inclusion and fermentation in open top vessels. At the same time, he had a firm grasp on the whole, never becoming overly focused on one single aspect of winemaking.
The wines of Au Bon Climat, for richer or poorer, have remained steadfast in the face of the fickle palates of both consumer and critic alike. The famous wine critic Robert Parker, for example, hailed the '89 vintage of one of their single vineyard Chardonnays as the best in California, but come '96, this same wine was viewed as "pinched and lean," despite having the same winemaking, pH, and alcohol--according to the late founder/"mind behind" Jim Clendenen, anyway.
At any rate, we dig on the Santa Barbara County Chardonnay for its eye toward Burgundy, while still maintaining its Santa Barbara identity, and being so suited to the table. The wine is sourced from four vineyards, Bien Nacido, Sierra Madre, Los Alamos and Rancho Vinedo, and is fermented and aged in French oak barrels of various ages. When young, the bright citrus notes and barrel spice make it an ideal companion to roast chicken and shellfish, while time in the bottle brings out the wine's inner richness, calling for decadent cream based dishes.
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