Smelling this, you might think you’re in for a proverbial "oak bomb." It did spend 18 months in new François Frères barrels, but the fruit is the dominant force here. "Spicy, vibrant, polished, pristine," commented Hunter Hammett of Jardinière. Jim Clendenen grew some of this chardonnay at his own Le Bon Climat Vineyard, sourcing the rest from Bien Nacido’s K Block, planted in 1972. It’s impressively rich, yet gains focus and intensity in the finish, the flavors as satisfying as a perfectly ripe apricot but more earthy and complex.
The 2012 Chardonnay Nuits-Blanches au Bouge is mostly Bien Nacido fruit, with a dollop of Le Bon Climat estate fruit, both picked a bit later and given more new oak than is the norm here. Beautifully layered and silky on the palate, the 2012 is all about nuance. Yellow orchard fruit, chamomile, lemon oil and flowers are all nicely shaped by 18 months in French oak. Lightly honeyed notes wrap around the expressive, inviting finish. Jim Clendenen seems to take things in stride. Once the darling of American wine, then cast off into near-obscurity, Clendenen must find it amusing to be back in vogue and that so many of the current crop of Santa Barbara's emerging young growers were either 1) deeply influenced by him, 2) worked under him, and/or 3) are now sourcing fruit from sites he made famous back in the 1980s. As much as the younger generation is getting a lot of attention, and rightly so in my view, much of what is 'new' today started with Clendenen and his then-partner Adam Tolmach (now at Ojai) back in the early days of Au Bon Climat. (AG)
Another white brought up in new French oak, the 2012 Chardonnay Nuits Blanches Au Bouge offers classic Chardonnay notes of ripe orchard fruits, honeysuckle, white flowers and toasted bread notes in a medium to full-bodied, balanced and beautifully textured style. It's a gorgeous Chardonnay that has a classic, focused feel and while it was brought up all in new oak, it's perfectly integrated into the wine. Impressive now, this beauty will also age gracefully. One of the Central Coast’s original pioneers, Jim Clendenen (along with Adam Tolmach) founded Au Bon Climate in 1982. Today, he releases a number of serious reds and whites that all have classic, age-worthy profiles. He’s not afraid of new oak either and these latest releases will benefit from short-term cellaring. (JD)
Fresh and snappy, with a vibrant core of citrus-centered green apple, white peach, nectarine and tangerine flavors, maintaining a mouthwatering and cleansing finish. Drink now. 807 cases made. (Web Only-2015)
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