Jim Clendenen saw the “magic” of Sanford and Benedict Vineyard 30 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 30 years.
Antonio Galloni's Vinous
Score: 96 "A wine of total allure, the 2015 Chardonnay 30th Vintage Sanford & Benedict Vineyard is remarkably vivid and nuanced. Orange peel, wild flowers, spices, new French oak and tropical overtones all emerge from this voluptuous, ample Chardonnay. Bright saline notes add striking freshness to a Chardonnay that dazzles from the very first taste. The 2015 was aged in 100% new 350-liter Francois Freres barrels. Readers who want to understand why Sanford & Benedict is one of California's grand crus should make a point of checking out this magnificent Chardonnay from Au Bon Climat and Jim Clendenen."
Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
Score: 91 ** " It is important to note the XXXth vintage designation on this wine's label as it differentiates this bottling from Au Bon Climat's less expensive Historic Vineyards Collection rendition sourced from the same site. Just as was the case with the XXXV Anniversary Chardonnay reviewed just above, it received extra time in new, hand-crafted Francoise Feres barrels whose influence is felt in increased flavor and aromatic richness as well as its slightly rounded palatal feel. The wine is firm and full-bodied with plenty of fruity flesh on its bones, but it is slowly revealed layering and terrific length that sets it well apart from the crowd. Expect years of useful life here even if it is wholly involving right now."