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 symmetry and restraint. There are three classifications within the Au Bon Climat brand.
1. Benchmark Series: There are four main wines in the "benchmark series". Each are created from the best cuvées of impressive vineyards 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." The series occasionally includes other elite wines such as our Pinot Noir "Larmes de Grappe" from Sanford & Benedict Vineyard along with anniversary and celebration wines.
2. Single Vineyard Wines: Au Bon Climat creates 5-6 Chardonnays and 10-14 Pinot Noirs every vintage. Most are vineyard designated. Most noteworthy is our Historic Vineyards Collection. The collection originally represented five iconic vineyards that were essential in elevating the recognition of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Central Coast wine region; four from Santa Barbara County and one from San Luis Obispo County. Today those vineyards represented are Los Alamos, Bien Nacido and Sanford & Benedict. New Vineyard Designations: There are more and more new plantings of vines that are coming into their own that are exceptional and deserve their name on the label. Can't pass that up the opportunity to work with them! Those that have become regulars include Runway Vineyard, Kick-On, Lala Panzi...more to come!
3. ABC Classics: These are wines of character that are imminently enjoyable and are affordable enough to make them a part of your everyday life without sacrificing quality. The Pinot Gris/Pinot Blanc is a dry white that is fruity, elegant and refreshing. The Santa Barbara County Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are remarkable for the price. For those ready for the next step up, the “La Bauge Au-dessus” Pinot Noir is the gateway to an elevated Pinot experience.
Clendenen Family Vineyards
There are few legacy wineries in America. A legacy winery is a winery where the owner is committed to the future, thinking long term, taking actions and making plans not for themselves but for their children’s children. CFV is just that. Jim Clendenen often dreamed of having a small winery where commerce was not the driving force and took a back seat to intent. Instead, a dream to have the luxury to keep wines long in barrel should they need it (5 years for the Nebbiolo!); to explore offbeat varietals and idiosyncratic styles because they are interesting. Created in 2000, the Clendenen Family brand is a project of passion. There is no doubt quality is here along with the ABC signature of balance, finesse and longevity.
Now in the hands of Isabelle and Knox Clendenen, the legacy continues with exciting, thoughtful wines for the adventurous. Clendenen Family showcases artisan, small lots of out-of-the-ordinary varietals and styles that do not fit the Au Bon Climat Burgundian format. These are wines that are nuanced, long lived, balanced, food-friendly, and not limited to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Originally, most of the fruit for the Clendenen Family wines came from the 80 acre estate Le Bon Climat Vineyard located in the Santa Maria Valley planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Viognier, Aligoté, Gewürztraminer, and Teroldego. Grape sourcing has expanded. It now includes fruit from the estate 20 acre vineyard at Rancho La Cuna in Los Alamos planted to Pinot Noir, Grenache Gris, Grenache Noir, Syrah, Viognier, and Chenin Blanc. In addition, there is wonderful Mondeuse (Refosco), Tocai Friulano, and Nebbiolo from estate plantings at Bien Nacido Vineyard. As new vineyard sites pop up, new opportunities are explored. Variety is the spice of life.
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."