2016 Chardonnay Le Bon Climat
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.
Score: 95 The 2016 Chardonnay Le Bon Climat comes from the estate vineyard in Santa Maria and is also all Chardonnay fermented 20 months in new French oak. Lots of toasty oak, sauteed orchard fruits, toasted bread, honeyed nuts, and plenty of salinity all emerge from this beauty, which is medium-bodied and has a bright, juicy style, wonderful purity, and a great finish. It's another beautiful Chardonnay that's still not fully mature. Give it another year or two and enjoy over the following decade.
Wine Enthusiast Magazine
SCORE:94/Editor's Choice: "Jim Clendenen saves his richer styles of Chardonnay for this family brand, and he remains a master of the style, adhering to balance while toying with woody lushness. Aromas of roasted nuts, toasted oak and butter meet with crisp and fresh citrus blossoms on the nose, while the viscous palate combines roasted apple, pecan and apple blossom flavors with bright acidity." - Matt Kettmann
Antonio Galloni's Vinous
SCORE: 94 "The 2016 Chardonnay Le Bon Climat is sensual and inviting, with soft contours, bright fruit and compelling balance. Lemon confit, apricot, white flower and a kiss of new French oak all meld together effortlessly. A wine of sublime grace and finesse, the 2016 is absolutely striking today. Next to the Bien Nacido, the Bon Climat is a bit more floral and citrus-driven in style." - Antonio Galloni