2012 Au Bon Climat "Bien Nacido Vineyard" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay

SKU #1276607 95 points Wine & Spirits

 *Voted Top United States Chardonnay of the Year and the Top Best Buy in United States Chardonnay of the Year* Jim Clendenen made his first Bien Nacido Chardonnay in 1989. He knows his way around the sprawling hillside and benchland vineyard better than just about anyone, and makes this exclusively from K Block, a bench of shale-laced gravelly loam that was planted in 1973. The block was grafted over to Chardonnay in the 1990's, leaving the roots intact, so the grapes continue to benefit from some of the oldest root systems in Santa Barbara County. The wine spent 18 months in new oak barrels, but you'd hardly know it - the intensity of the fruit is the first and last impression, fresh and clean as a breeze through an orchard, suggesting orange blossoms, peach pits and pollen. The wood polishes the fruit into a satiny, harmonious form. This is a California chardonnay that will last ten years or more in the cellar - vinous, energetic, and deep.  (11/2016)

92 points Vinous

 The 2012 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard captures the essence of this great site in its textured, multi-faceted personality. Orange blossom, mint, chamomile and peach are beautifully delineated, but it is the wine's focus and saline-infused finish that stand out most. The more phenolic side of Bien Nacido emerges as the wine sits in the glass. Although not an obvious wine, the 2012 Bien Nacido Chardonnay has it all going on. Jim Clendenen moves from strength to strength with this superb range of wines. Clendenen seems to be enjoying a sort of late career Renaissance now that he is making wines again in his own, personal style while so many of the values he has long championed have been adopted by today's younger generation. This is an impressive set of wines to say the least. Best of all, prices for most of these wines remain very fair in today's world. I can't recommend these new releases highly enough. (AG)  (6/2016)

90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The ripe, sexy 2012 Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard (fermented and aged in 100% new French oak) gives up lots of juicy citrus, buttered orchard fruits and a touch of saltiness in its medium-bodied, rounded, lively personality. It’s another impeccable white from Jim and should drink nicely for another 2-3 years. (JD)  (7/2016)

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Price: $29.99
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- It's hard to believe that up until about 30 years ago, this extremely popular varietal hid behind the veil of geographical names like Chablis and Puligny-Montrachet. Now grown all over the world and bottled by its varietal name, Chardonnay has achieved a level of branding unlike any other wine. Surprisingly, though, what you get when you buy Chardonnay can differ greatly from country to country and even within one country, depending on the climate where it's grown and how it is vinified and aged. From fresh, crisp and minerally with apple and lemon notes to rich and buttery with tropical fruit overtones, Chardonnay runs the gamut. In France's Burgundy, Chardonnay is the source of the prized wines of Chablis, Corton-Charlemagne, Mâcon, Meursault and Montrachet. It also the foundation of exceptional Champagne, where it is blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier or vinified on its own into Blanc de Blancs. It is also extremely popular in California, and is gaining popularity in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain and South Africa.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world. Click for a list of bestselling items from the United States.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year. For our entire selection of California wines, please visit this link.
Specific Appellation:

Santa Maria/Santa Barbara

- Santa Maria and Santa Ynez make up the two AVAs of Santa Barbara County, an area known for its natural beauty and temperate climate. The best grape-growing areas, however, are located on the very coastal reaches of these two appellations, and are cooled by ever-present fog and ocean breezes (it is even cooler and foggier here than Carneros!). As expected, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir thrive while the more inland zones lay claim to Bordeaux varietals and some Rhône blends.