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 four classifications within the Au Bon Climat brand.
1. Blue Series: There are four main wines in the "blues series" created from the best cuvées and that 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." Each are identified by a dark blue capsule. We occasionally have other Blue Series wines such as our Pinot Noir "Larmes de Grappe" from Sanford & Benedict Vineyard along with anniversary and celebration wines.
2. Historic Vineyards Collection: The collection orifinally represent five iconic vineyards that have elevated the recognition of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in 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.
3. Single Vineyard Wines: There are more and more new plantings of vines that are coming into their own that are exceptional. Can't pass that up the opportunity to work with them! These have included Runway Vineyard, Kick-On, Lala Panzi...more to come!
4. Santa Barbara County 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 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are remarkable for the price. The Pinot Gris/Pinot Blanc is elegant and refreshing.
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. Instead, a dream to have the luxury to keep wines long in barrel should they need it (5 years for the Nebbiolo!), red wines that will last generations, firm wines, wines that are for their purpose food-friendly. Firm acidities, and moderate alcohol are among his reference points for production. 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. Caveat Emptor.
Not just another label, Clendenen Family is a project of passion. These are artisan, small lots of distinctive wines where commerce takes a back seat to intent. 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 estate Le Bon Climat Vineyard located in the Santa Maria Valley. The 100 acre vineyard produces Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Viognier, Aligoté, Gewürztraminer, and Teroldego. Grape sourcing has expanded. Fruit now also comes from the estate 20 acre vineyard called Rancho La Cuna in Los Alamos planted to Pinot Noir, Grenache Gris, Grenache Noir, 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."