2013 Au Bon Climat "Bien Nacido Vineyard" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay SKU #1324475


VN 94 WE 93 RP 90
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Professional Reviews

K&L Notes

Jim Clendenen's team has been producing this wine for decades and, according to the winery's notes, "we have our winemaking protocol down to a point where we know exactly what to do to maximize the potential of this grape from Bien Nacido Vineyard. We have identified the best locations where Chardonnay is grown and have locked in our committment. The grapes were hand harvested, whole-cluster pressed (to minimize tannin extraction from the skins), totally barrel fermented in 100% new François Frères barrels, aged for 18 months, then bottled unfiltered. The aroma reveals this is obviously Chardonnay made in an old world style. Sweet barrel spice mixes nicely with a lemon limey note from the fruit. It is rich on the palate, and the classic Chardonnay flavors of apple, citrus and vanilla go on and on. This lively wine will go with wide assortment of foods. Seared scallops in butter with a touch of orange, roast chicken with rosemary are just a couple of favorites with this Chardonnay."

Staff Reviews

  • Mari Keilman
    By: Mari Keilman
    K&L Staff Member
    California Chardonnay has gotten a bad rap over the last few years, and while some producers have done a complete 180 and are producing high acid, minerally Chards to rival Chablis, they are some producers that chose to stay true to the Cali Chard style but just make them "right." Au Bon Climat is a producer that has ​always stayed true to its SoCal style but with a strong French influence. The Bien Nacido Vineyard Chardonnay is exactly what a Cali Chardonnay should taste like; ripe but balanced, toasty but fresh, textured but lifted. This Chardonnay knocks it out of the ballpark and has set the standard for what other producers should be striving to achieve!
  • Blake Conklin
    By: Blake Conklin
    K&L Staff Member
    Au Bon Climat never ceases to please with their chardonnay, and the 2013 Bien Nacido is no exception. While it possesses many notes of a classic California chardonnay, the acidity on this is also very well balanced and refined, and I can honestly see this Chardonnay only getting better with some age. Worth a peek for those who love Chardonnay.
  • Ryan Woodhouse
    By: Ryan Woodhouse
    K&L Staff Member
    It's a pet peeve of mine when people keep harping on about Burgundy when tasting Pinot and Chardonnay from other parts of the world...but this wine would be pretty much impossible to pick out of a lineup of top notch white burgundy. It's a beautifully refined, elegant, understated expression of the varietal. There is nothing big or brash about it, but the intricate detail of its craftsmanship is paramount. There's a fine balance of crisp fruit, nutty, yeasty tones, saline minerals and crystalline acidity. The line, length and persistence on the palate the key marker of this heralded site. If you are looking for a subtle, nuanced expression of California Chardonnay this is right on the money.
    Drink from 2017 to 2023
  • Stephanie Vidales
    By: Stephanie Vidales
    K&L Staff Member
    This is California Chardonnay with an old-world finesse. The energetic aromatics of brioche, vanilla, stone fruit and citrus are perfectly integrated with the minerality and bright acidity that follows on the palate. Oak is apparent as well, adding another complex element of spice and robustness. This wine is absolutely lovely, elegant and spot-on with what I love in Chardonnay.
  • David Driscoll
    By: David Driscoll
    K&L Staff Member
    Along California's Central Coast, midway up the Santa Maria Valley, sits one of the state's most historic vineyards: Bien Nacido. Known as a cool climate site due to the fog that rolls in off the coast, cooling down the grapes and helping them to retain their acidity, the vineyard is a natural fit for delicate Burgundian varietals like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. White wines from Bien Nacido have acidity and finesse, unlike those from warmer parts of California that can be ripe and creamy. With a slower ripening time, the grapes have time to develop concentration and complexity rather than simply sweetness from the sugar. It's the perfect habitat for a winemaker looking to replicate the wines of Burgundy, those coveted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir expressions that showcase not only delicacy, but the individual conditions in which the grapes were grown. It's here that winemaker Jim Clendenen, a man who called his first winery Au Bon Climat as an homage to Burgundy, got the fruit to make this incredible Bien Nacido Chardonnay, a decidedly Montrachet-like white wine in both its mild richness and elegance. Barrel fermented and matured in oak, the toastier elements come forward, accenting the fruit and creating lush textures of brioche and toasted almond, but with plenty of classic Chardonnay fruit to bolster it. The result is somewhere in between California and Burgundy, which I think was Jim's intent. It's a damn fine bottle of wine.


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