2017 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 2017 Clendenen Family Vineyards Chardonnay is our 17th 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.
Antonio Galloni's Vinous
Score: 95 The 2017 Chardonnay Le Bon Climat is a selection of the best fruit and barrels from the Le Bon Climat vineyard, done in larger 350 liters barrels, Lemon confit, tropical fruit, apricot and a kiss of new French oak all build nicely. Here, too, the wine retains gorgeous freshness. White pepper, chalk and mint lend aromatic brilliances on the close.
Wine & Spirits Magazine
Score: 93 This cuvée, a special selection aged in 350L FranÇois Frères barrels, a one of a kind chardonnay from the late Jim Clendenen. Its lemon curd and pineapple flavors are girded by a sturdy oak frame, firm with plenty of leesy grip. This shows dramatic tension and freshness for a four-year-old wine, fine and focused, the lemony accents firmed up by a salty tang and majestic oak elements. For the cellar. —P.J.C.