2018 Au Bon Climat "Nuits-Blanches au Bouge" Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay

SKU #1545951 95 points Jeb Dunnuck

Outer quote mark Another gorgeous Chardonnay from Jim Clendenen, the 2018 Chardonnay Nuits-Blanches Au Bouge has an undeniable Burgundian vibe in its ripe stone fruits, toasted hazelnuts, white flowers, and brioche-driven aromas and flavors. These carry to a medium-bodied Chardonnay with terrific mid-palate concentration, vibrant, almost racy acidity, flawless balance, and a clean, crisp, lengthy finish. I like it today, yet I have no doubt this will evolve for 10, 15, if not 20 years in cold cellars. It's well worth seeking out. Inner quote mark (4/2021)

95 points Vinous

Outer quote mark The 2018 Chardonnay Nuits-Blanches au Bouge is another compelling wine in this range. It marries the textural richness typical of these wines with a good deal of brightness. Lemon confit, almond, new French oak and pastry all develop in the glass. I especially like the energy here. Nuits-Blanches au Bouge is a blend from the K Block at Bien Nacido and Le Bon Climat. (AG) Inner quote mark (10/2021)

93 points Wine Enthusiast

Outer quote mark Toasted oak and sea-salt aromas meet with warm apple pie on the rich nose of this bottling. The palate is luxurious with buttered apple, lemon brioche and more salt flavors. (MK) Inner quote mark (3/2022)

92 points John Gilman

Outer quote mark The Nuits-Blanches au Bouge bottling of chardonnay from Au Bon Climat is the winery’s bigger, flashier-styled wine, made initially to attract the Parker crowd, but eventually tamed down a bit to allow for a bit more finesse than the first few vintages were capable of delivering. The fruit for this bottling hails from both Bien Nacido and Le Bon Climat vineyards. The 2018 version comes in listed at 13.5 percent octane and delivers fine aromatic complexity in its blend of pear, tangerine, a touch of fresh pineapple, acacia blossoms, a good base of soil and buttery new oak. On the palate the wine is ripe, full-bodied, focused and complex, with excellent mid-palate depth, zesty acids and fine focus and grip on the long and very nicely balanced finish. Inner quote mark (9/2021)

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Price: $34.95

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By: Ryan Woodhouse | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 12/6/2021 | Send Email
After the tragic passing of winemaker, Jim Clendenen in May of 2021, I've come to view his wines as even more influential and critical to the development of the California wine business than I had realized while he was still with us. Clearly Jim was a once in a generation talent, and a guy revered across the globe for his larger-than-life personality, yet now he's gone the wines left behind seem even more consequential. Thankfully it seems his kids with take up the reigns and Au Bon Climat and Clendenen Family wines will gallop into the future upon the firm ground Jim laid out before his untimely passing. His 2018 "Nuits Blanches Au Bouge" Chardonnay is an absolute master piece of winemaking. Each year this special bottling is selected from some of the very best Bien Nacido "K Block" fruit and blended with a prized parcel from Jim's own estate, Le Bon Climat Vineyard both in Santa Maria Valley. 90% of 2018 bottling is from K Block, widely considered the finest section of Bien Nacido, an original hillside planting from the early 1970's. The fruit from these 45+ year old vines was then fermented and aged for 18 months in all new French oak from François Frères. This is a wine of some grandeur and density, from the golden color in the glass, to the powerful ripe aromas and flavors, and dense phenolic texture on the palate; this is Chardonnay made to have a big impact. White flowers, baked orchard fruit, almond croissant, hazelnut cream, pecan brittle. Lots of rich pastry tones and caramelized fruit. Then comes the cut, just as your palate has been laden down with all this lavish ripeness and richness, the textural, phenolic element of the wine gives wonderful definition and form, before a seemingly impossible, searing acidity and saline minerality draws the wine into a sensationally focused and precise finish. How a wine can be so rich and decadent yet so chiseled and refined is beyond me. I guess the answer is simply - the very best raw materials in the hands of a true master craftsman. Drink this magical bottle of Chardonnay anytime over the next 10 years.

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