2018 Chardonnay Los Alamos Vineyard
Vineyard: The Los Alamos Vineyard is roughly 500 planted acres, most of which is on flat bottomland of the Los Alamos Valley that is sandwiched between the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Maria Valley appellations. The best grapes from this vineyard are found to the north on the gentle slopes of the hills.
We source from grapes grown at the top of the wind-swept slopes of the Solomon Hills. On this hilltop the wind and shallower soils keep the yields low and the grapes struggle to ripen. Even though it is a struggle, the small crop ripens early. This is the first Chardonnay to arrive at the winery for the last 10 years. The small crop on these hardy vines is concentrated.
Au Bon Climat and Los Alamos Vineyard share a lot of history. The first Au Bon Climat winery was a small barn on the Los Alamos Vineyard property. That was in 1982. Since then Los Alamos Vineyard has changed hands a few times and Au Bon Climat moved from that property in 1989. Most of the owners of Los Alamos have been interested in farming cheaply and setting and ripening a lot of grapes. This sort of viticulture was of no interest to Au Bon Climat. In 2004, the farming of this vineyard was “handed over” to Tavo Acosta. Tavo is one of the new generation of viticulturists in the Santa Maria area. This group of grape growers are motivated to grow the best grapes to make the best wine and they drink wine, too. This newer farming is more hands on and expensive than the earlier methods, but the quality difference is huge. The improvements at Los Alamos vineyard are ongoing and this vineyard will be a large part of the Au Bon Climat portfolio going forward.
Connoisseurs' Guide to CA Wine
Score: 89*/GOOD VALUE "A little more forward in fruit than we are accustomed to seeing in Chardonnays from Au Bon Climat, yet still a wine that shows a good dose of sweet oak and the kind of incipient layering that encourages additional age, the 2018 Los Alamos bottling is a flavorful, well-filled offering that does not stint on accessible richness and delivers plenty to like even now. Whether enjoyed in its youth or set aside for a few years, it is a seriously good offering for twenty-five dollars."