2014 Chardonnay Nuits-Blanches au Bouge
Au Bon Climat started making “Nuits-Blanches” in 1996. Jim Clendenen decided to “show off” the exceptional grape quality at Bien Nacido Vineyard. We picked later, sorted more, and kept the wine in barrel longer than any other Chardonnay. The Nuits-Blanches style is richer and oakier than other Au Bon Climat Chardonnays. Our “Nuits-Blanches” is traditionally 90% Bien Nacido Vineyard “K” Block, and 10% from our estate Le Bon Climat Vineyard. .
The very small crop at Le Bon Climat ripened quickly with sunshine, while the more vigorous, K block at Bien Nacido took one month longer than Le Bon Climat to ripen. Le Bon Climat is planted with Dijon Clones 76 and 96 which have riper characteristics at lower sugar than the Davis clones of Chardonnay. Block “K” at Bien Nacido is one of the original blocks planted at Bien Nacido in the early 1970s. “K” Block is all UC Davis clone 4. Usually as grapes ripen, the sugar level will increase while the acid will decrease. The cooler the climate, the slower this process will happen. This clone in the cool Santa Maria Valley will be low in pH at a ripe sugar level. A low pH Chardonnay will age better, integrate oak better, and pair with food better.
We started with great grapes, aged it for 18 months in new François Frères barrels, and bottled with no filtering. Lovely aromas of apricot, lavender and caramel ebb into bright flavors of lemon/lime, and a fresh, spicy finish with vanilla, clove and honeydew melon. The richness and texture are increasing in the bottle. We can’t wait to see this wine at 10 years of age.
Antonio Galloni's Vinous
Score 93 points: "The 2014 Chardonnay Nuits-Blanches au Bouge-On That Road Again is a bold, powerful wine that reflects the natural richness of the vintage. Lightly tropical notes, ripe orchard fruit and floral-infused honey give the wine its oily, unctuous texture. I would prefer to cellar the 2014 for at least a few years, as it is still a bit tightly wound. -- Antonio Galloni"
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Score 92 points: "The 2014 Chardonnay Nuits Blanches Au Bouge gives a gregarious nose of guava, pink grapefruit and honeydew melon with touches of orange blossom and chalk dust. Medium-bodied, with a compelling grip to the texture, it has a lively backbone and long, tropical fruit-laced finish." -- Lisa Perrotti-Brown
Score 92: "Finely textured, featuring lilting white fruit flavors that are wrapped inside a silky spiciness. Airy mid-palate, with notes of lemon cream. Finishes long and rich, showing a luscious mix of sea salt and hints of caramel, accented by some dried coconut details. Drink now through 2021."