Great wine, perhaps especially in California, is a product of strong and brilliant personalities. A true winemaker must defy pervasive pressure to take shortcuts, to underestimate the intelligence of the market, and to appeal to common tolerance over relentless passion. More than any other individual, Au Bon Climat owner Jim Clendenen has advanced the reputation of Santa Barbara wine.
Short Name: Chardonnay
Full Name: 2012 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay
Producer: Au Bon Climat
Geography: Santa Barbara, California
$10 glass, $38 bottle
Varieties: Chardonnay 100%
Description: A storm of preserved lemons and apple with nutty alpine cheese sensations – that last note is the product of a technique knows as barrel fermentation. The effects of barrel fermentation are distinct from barrel aging (read more here). This is Chardonnay in its glory, uncompromising, thrilling, and maybe not for everyone. This is not a generic, small “chardonnay.”
Comparables: Southern White Burgundy: Meursault, Pouilly-Fuisse, Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet.
Pairings: Big rich flavors with sweetness and earthiness, including winter squash, bearnaise, wild mushrooms, foie gras, aged cheddar, avocado, pesto. Be careful pairing this with fish, nothing too delicate. Chicken and pork, hell yes. Fried chicken paired with this wine could be a signature move – memorable.