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 2014 Clendenen Family Vineyards Chardonnay is our 14th 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.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Score: 95 "The 2015 Chardonnay Le Bon Climat was aged in 100% new François Frères barrels. It has savory, open-knit notes of golden apples and creamy lemon with touches of salted almonds, beeswax and floral perfume. The palate is full, round, expansive and silky with honey-kissed flavors and a very long finish refreshed by juicy uplift. 175 cases were made."
Antonio Galloni's Vinous
SCORE: 94 "The 2015 Chardonnay Le Bon Climat is sumptuous, creamy and wonderfully inviting. Quite surprisingly, the Bon Climat retains terrific freshness and nuance for a vintage in which poor weather during set reduced the potential crop by a good 50%, while drought conditions created further challenges. The natural density and weight of the vintage are evident, and yet the wine retains terrific balance to play off a core of orchard fruit, pineapple, passionfruit, oak toastiness and floral notes. Aging in 350-liter barrels also helps in giving the wine an extra bit of tension. This forward, racy Chardonnay has so much to offer, including tons of sheer allure."
Score: 95 "The 2015 Chardonnay Le Bon Climat comes from the estate vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley and spent two years in new French oak. It reveals a medium gold color as well as a young bouquet of caramelized lemons, white peach, honeysuckle, and brioche, with plenty of background oak. Concentrated, medium-bodied, beautifully pure, and elegant on the palate, it's a smoking good Chardonnay that needs a solid 4-5 years of bottle age and should age brilliantly for 10-15 years or more. Bravo."