The Family of Wines
Au Bon Climat
An homage to the wines of Burgundy, Au Bon Climat features many renditions of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Blanc, with balance and character critical elements in every wine. These wines age beautifully because of their balance and restraint. There are three tiers within the Au Bon Climat brand.
1. Blue Series: Four wines are created from the best cuvées and receive the highest percentage of new french oak. They are: Chardonnay "Nuits-Blanches au Bouge", Hildegard (a blended white of Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Aligoté), Pinot Noir "Knox Alexander", and Pinot Noir "Isabelle."
2. Historic Vineyards Collection: The collection represent five iconic vineyards that have elevated the recognition of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in this wine region; four from Santa Barbara County and one from San Luis Obispo County.
3. Santa Barbara County Classics: These are wines of character that are imminently enjoyable and very affordable so you can make them a part of your everyday life without sacrificing quality. The Santa Barbara County Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are remarkable for the price. The Pinot Gris/Pinot Blanc is elegant and refreshing.
This is not just another label, it is a project of passion for winemaker/owner Jim Clendenen. These are artisan, small lots of distinctive wines where commerce is not the driving force. These wines have the luxury to be in barrel as long as they need it (5 years for the Nebbiolo!). Wines that are nuanced, long lived, food-friendly, with firm acidities, and moderate alcohol. There is no doubt quality is here; the question is if there is patience enough in today’s consumptive environment. These are distinctive, adult wine styles.
Most of the fruit for the Clendenen Family wines comes from the estate Le Bon Climat Vineyard located in the Santa Maria Valley. The 70 acre vineyard produces Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Viognier, Aligoté, Gewürztraminer, and Teroldego.
In 1998, Barbara Barham Mendelsohn and Richard Mendelsohn planted 5 acres of carefully selected clones of Pinot Noir on Lala Panzi Ranch in the Russian River Valley near Healdsburg in Sonoma County. The Mendelsohns engaged successful and experienced viticulturalist Fred Peterson to direct the planting of 6,100 vines on their rolling ranch land. The Mendelsohns questioned leading wine industry figures and compiled a list of the most successful Pinot Noir producers and cross-referenced it down to three names.
After an interview process, a joint venture was proposed to Jim Clendenen. During this mutual discovery period Clendenen was impressed by the beauty of Lala Panzi, the excellence of the site, and the commitment to organic farming producing balanced fruit and wine. The concurrence of Jim’s idea of clonal selection with Fred Peterson’s ideas, and the exciting shared vision of food and wine culture that Jim possessed with the Mendelsohns, cemented their relationship. One, limited edition Pinot is made each year and each year it is phenomenal. Under "Specialty Wines."
Ici/La-Bas translates as “here and there”, as in the grapes are grown "there" in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County or Oregon, and the wine is made "here" at our production facility in Santa Maria. Each year a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is produced from the Elke Vineyard in Anderson Valley, and occasionally a Pinot Noir from Oregon. Under "Specialty Wines."