2013 Viognier 'Le Bon Climat' Estate Grown
Le Bon Climat vineyard was planted with 36 acres of Pinot Noir, 3.5 acres of Chardonnay and 2.7 acres of Viognier. Obviously the focus was Pinot Noir. The quality of the Viognier has turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The first few vintages of grapes were sold to other wineries. Clendenen Family produced the first Viognier from this vineyard, under this label in 2011. The 2011 vintage was very small; we only made four barrels of wine, which is less than two tons. The 2013 vintage was much more favorable, we made 16 barrels and bottled about 300 cases.
Cool climate Viognier is hard to find in California. Viognier has a wonderful honeysuckle note when grown in warmer climates, but in cooler climates the honeysuckle is still there but so is structure and balance. Le Bon Climat is truly cool climate, on the edge of the Santa Maria Valley. You can see the Pacific on a clear day 18 miles right down the Santa Maria River. The cool ocean influence moves right up the valley and keeps Le Bon Climat vineyard cool and sunny most of the growing season.
Harvesting at the right time is particularly critical for Viognier. 2013 was a bountiful harvest with many grapes ripening in unison. The grapes were hand harvested and sorted in the vineyard. Le Bon Climat is only five miles from our winery, so these freshly picked grapes were being pressed in no time. We don’t keep Viognier in the press very long since this variety has a surprising amount of tannin. The juice is settled for two days to minimize the leesy aspect of the wine. Short barrel aging and early bottling is standard for Viognier at Clendenen Family to capture the youthful juiciness of this variety.
This is a food friendly Viognier. It is a wine of restraint and sophistication. The wine, with more acid and less fruitiness than most California Viogniers, makes a more elegant statement. These qualities and the fact the wine is delicious make this wine a great match with grilled fish, quiche Lorraine or pasta with a creamy white sauce. Aromas of pear, stone fruit and honeydew melon greet the drinker. The flavors of peaches and tangerines are obvious, but a hint of mint gives the complexity to a nice mouthful of wine.