‘Californian Chardonnay’ turns a lot of people off before they’ve even seen the bottle, which is a shame when it can be made as well as this! Forget flabby, over the top wines because this is taut, rich and delicious.
Jim Clendenen, the mind behind Au Bon Climat, is a longstanding icon of the Californian wine scene. While many producers have fallen by the wayside chasing the latest trends, Jim has stuck to his guns and kept making wines the way he likes them: fruity yet fresh, and with more than a nod to Burgundy. He buys fruit from all over Santa Barbara (the area made famous by Sideways) and then carefully ferments it in barrel.
The wine is subtle but complex, with fresh lemon and lime being the dominant fruit. In the background, you find the toasty, smoky wisps of flavour from the oak barrels, building to a slight vanilla hit on the finish. It’s a wine that develops as you drink it and will happily develop for years in the bottle. In short, you’re getting a lot of quality without an eye-watering price.
Grape varieties: Chardonnay