2016 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard
2016 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard
Historic Vineyards Collection
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What can one say about Bien Nacido that has not been said before? This award-winning vineyard is in the center of the Santa Maria Valley AVA and grows high quality grapes of many varieties.  Chardonnay was first varieties planted here in the early 1970s. Winemakers saw the quality coming from this vineyard near Santa Maria. These Chardonnay grapes were sought after by wineries, big and small, all over California. Au Bon Climat has a “lifetime” contract for the best block of Chardonnay at Bien Nacido. All the Chardonnay from “K” block has been made into wine at Au Bon Climat since 1989. “K” Block is on slight slope, with more gravel in the soil then the bottom land blocks. The poorer soil keeps the vigor and crop size under control.

Traditional winemaking practices were employed to make this lovely Chardonnay. The grapes were hand harvested, whole cluster pressed (to minimize tannin extraction from the skins), totally barrel fermented in 100% new François Frères barrels, aged for 18 months, bottled unfiltered. Low pH Chardonnay interacts with oak in a very different than flabby Chardonnays from warmer areas. Warmer climate riper Chardonnay makes the wine “buttery”. Lower pH wine shows subtle and well-integrated aromas of orange blossom, anise and lavender.  The oak component is evident with charming mix of vanilla and hazelnuts.

Our Historical Vineyard Collection wines are meant to age. Grapes are picked with a low pH and moderate sugar to make Au Bon Climat style Chardonnay. We picked the grapes for this wine in early September, the sugar was on the low side but intensity and flavors indicated the grapes were ready. 

One whiff reveals this is obviously Chardonnay made in an old world style. Minerality and reduction from extended lees contact, reminds us of Burgundy. Sweet barrel spice mixes nicely with a lemon limey note. Surprising rich on the palate, classic varietal flavors of apple, citrus and vanilla go on and on. This lively Chardonnay will go with wide assortment of foods. Lobster Pappardelle with chive butter, or fresh corn soufflé with bacon and comté cheese are just a couple of favorites with this wine.

Production: 250 cases

Antonio Galloni's Vinous

Score: 94 Points  "The 2016 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard is bright, focused and wonderfully nuanced. This is such a fabulous expression of Bien Nacido. Lemon confit, white flowers, mint and white pepper are all beautifully delineated in a striking, translucent Chardonnay that is in a great spot for current drinking. Bright saline notes add energy throughout. This is such a classy wine."

Jeb Dunnuck

Score: 93 points  "Moving to the Pinot Noirs, the 2016 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard comes from one of the great sites in the Santa Maria Valley and was barrel fermented and aged 18 months in new French oak. Its medium ruby/purple-tinged color is followed by Gevrey-like notes of tart cherries, underbrush, sappy flowers, and forest floor as well as some classic Santa Maria marine-like salinity. It's elegant, medium-bodied, has beautiful purity and tension, and certainly a Burgundian style in its acidity and texture. It's a brilliant wine."

Wine Spectator

Score: 92 Points  ‘Features good cut to the well-framed blend of concentrated white fruit and citrus flavors that turn rich and creamy mid-palate. Dried pineapple and spice notes show on the plush finish. Drink now through 2022. 240 cases made. – KM"


Wine Specs
Santa Maria Valley
Alcohol %
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