Jim Clendenen saw the “magic” of Sanford and Benedict Vineyard 31 years ago. He has continued to make Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from this property even though ownership changed. Sanford and Benedict was the original Santa Rita Hills Vineyard and one of the first in the Santa Barbara County. The success of this vineyard started a “planting boom” in this new AVA. The top notch wine was aged in unique 350 liter barrels of the highest quality French Oak. After two years for barrel age the wine was lightly processed and bottled. This is a exceptional wine from a winery that has been known for making great Chardonnay from this historical vineyard for 31 years.
Score: 95 "From a cool site on the southern side of the Sta. Rita Hills, the 2016 Chardonnay 31st Vintage Celebration Sanford & Benedict is another wine that has plenty of salty, seaside-like nuances as well as Burgundian-like orchard fruits, toasted spice, brioche, and honeysuckle aromas and flavors. This fleshy, medium to full-bodied, balanced effort has bright acidity, the seamless, approachable texture that's the hallmark of the 2016 vintage, and a great finish. It's still youthful and should drink nicely for at least a decade."
Antonio Galloni's Vinous
Score: 95 The 2016 Chardonnay Sanford & Benedict Vineyard - 31st Vintage is a bottling from the second of the two picks Jim Clendenen did at S&B. Bright, fresh and translucent, the 2016 is remarkably refined for such a rich wine. Orchard fruit, citrus and floral notes take on uncanny shades of dimension in this positively stunning Chardonnay from Au Bon Climat. The 2016 saw 100% new oak, all 350-liter barrels.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Score: 94 Points "Checking back in on the 2016 Chardonnay Sanford & Benedict 31st Vintage Celebration, it has opened to soft orchard and stone fruits with floral perfume and bright, super classy oak touches. The medium-bodied palate is silky and begins minerally and precise before fleshing out to expansive fruits, and it finishes very long and lifted. It has lovely definition and should continue to age well in bottle. 100 cases were made. - Erin Brooks