2012 Au Bon Climat "Historic Vineyards Collection-Bien Nacido Vineyard" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay SKU #1276607


W&S 95 VN 92 RP 90
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Professional Reviews

K&L Notes

By now it is certainly no secret how much we like the wines from Au Bon Climat. We've been inundating you with classy, structured, energetic wines from them for some time now including a Pinot Noir that we made earlier this year with them. This wine, one in a series of wines that Jim Clendenen makes to highlight the older "historic" vineyards in Santa Barbara County, is from the famed Bien Nacido Vineyard. The quality of this vineyard is not only one of the few universally agreed upon by vintners in the Central Coast but by us here at K&L as well. (Bryan Brick, K&L)

Staff Reviews

  • Mari Keilman
    By: Mari Keilman
    K&L Staff Member
    Bien Nacido produces some of the best grapes in California and Jim Clendenen makes some pretty amazing wines so when you put the two together, you know this winning combination is going to create something spectacular. There is a definite prevalence of oak on the nose with touches of toasted brioche, buttered popcorn and a faint leesiness that is coupled with soft Meyer lemon and peach aromatics. The great thing is that when you have a winemaker like Jim, he knows just how to perfectly balance any heaviness that may come from time in barrel with a refreshing, crisp acidity that can only be attributed to the cool coastal influence and Jim's decision to pick his grapes at just the right time. So rather than some flabby extracted fruity oak bomb, you're left with a beautifully aromatic and delicately orchard fruit packed Chardonnay that reminds me of a modern style Montrachet.
  • Sharon Kelly
    By: Sharon Kelly
    K&L Staff Member
    A California Chardonnay that showcases a true expression of Santa Maria Valley fruit. There are ample notes of tropical and stone fruits, a drizzle of honey and texture that swathes the palate. Oak is present but does not overwhelm, and together with beautiful fruit and vibrant acidity the result is a wine with incredible balance and finesse.
  • David Othenin-Girard
    By: David Othenin-Girard
    K&L Staff Member
    I tasted this gorgeous little bottle next to some of the world's top burgundies last week. Surprising balance and depth for the price and while it stood out as distinctly SoCal in nature, for the first time it was a good thing. Lovely aromatics on the nose with excellent integration of fruit and toasty oak. The palate is big tropical fruit and well structured without any popcorn or overt sweetness. A lovely example of what SO Cal does so well for such a reasonable price.
  • Bryan Brick
    By: Bryan Brick
    K&L Staff Member
    Toasted pecans and walnuts over grilled white corn and lush apricot preserves with just a touch of lime zest-these aromas alone are worth the price of admission here. As this is a 2012 there is also just a touch of bottle age starting to creep in on the nose as well with a ribbon of caramel and an edge of torched sugar. However the palate is fresh as can be, dare I say even electric at this point with superb entering flavors of lemon meringue, Clementine, marzipan and a wealth of floral material that reminds me of white roses and carnations. Soft and lush on the finish with vigor at its edges and a delicious white peach fruit that sings on this is a lovely, complex and serious Chardonnay that is one of the best values of the year in Chardonnay and one of my top 5 Chardonnays of the year.
  • Diana Turk
    By: Diana Turk
    K&L Staff Member
    What I love most about Au Bon Climat – and this Bien Nacido offering in particular – is how they capture classic Californian style Chardonnay, with all the expected toastiness on the nose and richness through the palate, but maintain enough brightness and sophistication to elevate the drinking experience. Great texture here, with Meyer lemon and subtly tropical stone fruit, hints of honey, surprisingly high acidity, and a clean finish. An elegant holiday choice.
  • Joe Manekin
    By: Joe Manekin
    K&L Staff Member
    Plain and simple, this is California Chardonnay done right! For fans of oak, you do have some satisfyingly toasty, buttered popcorn qualities combining with the fruit on the nose. On the palate, though, is where the wine really delivers, with rich flavors of lemon curd and delicious, tangy apricot, framed perfectly by the oak. Along with Qupe, when an Au Bon Climat Chardonnay is on its 'A' game it is quite a serious white wine, with powerful flavors and mouth watering acidity. Delicious and highly recommended.
  • David Driscoll
    By: David Driscoll
    K&L Staff Member
    This is the type of California chardonnay that needs to be more readily available: a textural, yet clean and focused style that has both the subtle honeyed and faintly-rich notes of classic California goodness, but with restraint and elegance. This is a stunning wine, one that brings to mind Chassagne-Montrachet, rather than Rombauer, with its grace and elegance. The wine is deceptively round and supple, offering fruit and hints of tropicality without sacrificing its core tenets. It's a brilliant balance of two worlds, a praise-worthy achievement that stands among the finer chardonnay's I've tasted from ABC.
  • Gary Norton
    By: Gary Norton
    K&L Staff Member
    This stuff is absolutely entrancing. Notes of yellow nectarines, apricots and pineapple just soar out of the glass and swirl into some richer pastry notes on the finish. One more home run from our buddy Jim Clendenon at ABC. This is an absolute game-changer for less than thirty bucks.


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