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. The vineyard is certified organic.
Wine: Our 2013 Clendenen Family Vineyards Chardonnay is our 13th release of this wine, and, as usual, a very limited production. 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.
Score 94 "The 2013 Chardonnay Le Bon Climat is rich and powerful on the palate, with considerable textural richness and resonance. Orchard fruit, mint, white flowers and honey arre all framed by new French oak in this super-expressive Chardonnay. Bright saline notes appear on the finish, giving the wine its energy and overall shape."
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Score 93: "The generously textural 2013 Chardonnay le Bon Climat Vineyard is reminiscent of a white Burgundy from the 1990s, opening in the glass with notes of buttered apples, toasted macadamia nuts, vanilla pod, struck match and toasty new oak. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied and glossy, clearly marked by its lees contact, with good length and grip on the flavorful finish. This was matured in 100% new François Frères barrels."