Vintage: After the funny fruit set in 2011; the large and consistent set in 2012 was a welcome relief. We harvested the first Chardonnay in early September. Both August and September were mainly in the 70s and 80s with no real heat. October was hit with three heat spikes with the warmest weather in the first week. The Le Bon Climat Chardonnay for this wine was harvested on October 1st prior to the heat wave so the sugar level was in balance with the acid.
Vineyard: Owned by Jim Clendenen, the Le Bon Climat Vineyard was planted in 1997 to mainly Pinot Noir, although it also has 7 acres of Chardonnay with small amounts of Gewurztraminer, Aligote, Teroldego and Viognier. The soil is well drained and nutrient poor. The nutrient weak soil controls vine vigor. Vigorous vines set more fruit which could lead to a dilute wine with low intensity. Le Bon Climat Vineyard is some of the earliest work done in Santa Barbara County with Dijon Clones of Chardonnay planted on devigorating rootstock; this scion-rootstock combination limits yields naturally. Low vigor vines grow slowly and set few grapes. The small number of clusters ripen with richness, power and intensity.
Wine: Our 2012 Clendenen Family Vineyards Chardonnay is our 12th release of this wine and is limited to just 200 cases or 400 6-paks. All of the grapes are handpicked and sorted in the vineyard. Fermentation and aging was done in 100% new François Frères barrel. After the first year in barrel the wine is racked and processed before going back to barrel to age for another 8 months. You first notice the appealing aromas of lavender and lilac which mix with the subtle citrusy notes. Light on the palate but still mouth filling, the wine has hidden power. Each sip is a never-ending parade of flavors, with a captivating mineral note in the finish. Chardonnay of this style with balance and intensity will go with so many different foods. Try it with some fresh caught Alaskan Salmon for a real treat.
Antonio Galloni's Vinous
Score: 93 "Apricot, baked apple, pastry and lightly honeyed notes grace the 2012 Chardonnay Le Bon Climat. Radiant, supple and open-knit, it will drink well upon release. The 2012 is very pretty even if it lacks the energy and freshness of some prior releases."
Robert Parker - Lisa Perrotti-Brown
Score: 94 "With slowly evolving honeyed apricots, orange blossoms, brioche and cashew scents plus a touch of candied ginger, the elegant, medium-bodied 2012 Chardonnay le Bon Climat Vineyard features maturing savory/toasty/nutty flavors in the mouth to compliment the stone fruit and citrus layers, finishing long and creamy. What a treat!"
Wine Spectator - Kim Marus
Score: 90 "Ripe and filled with pear tart, toasted coconut and dried peach flavors that are accented by some savory notes. Honeycomb details linger on the rich, creamy finish. Drink now. 150 cases made."