Feb
02

A Dinner with Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat

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Au Bon Climat Winery

Jim Clendenen is, without a doubt, one of the true winemaking icons out of California and has been for over thirty plus years. He was the spotlight champion of bringing the Santa Barbara appellation and its wines to the forefront. His incredible mastery in the vineyards and in the winery is very worldly and done with much more Old World sensibility. His resulting wines are always so elegant, refined, classy, well textured, balanced and some of the very best out of California. NO foo-foo, bells and whistles or fanfare from him or his wines! He is, in fact, very out spoken and quite the character. I seem to learn something new and fascinating from him with every run in. He is a wine “yoda”. We are so honored he is coming to VINO. This is your chance to taste his wines and to meet him in person. This will be a night to remember.

FIRST COURSE

Homemade Seafood Sausagefresh cauliflower puree & fresh dill

WINE: 2016 Au Bon Climat Pinot Gris/Pinot Blanc

Au Bon Climat is Jim Clendenen’s label for Burgundian grape varieties, mostly grown & produced in the Santa Maria Valley of California, hence Chardonnay, Pinot Noir AND Pinot Gris & Pinot Blanc.  They are crafted with Old World sensibilities & are therefore much more elegant, minerally, lighter on their feet & generally lower (under 14 degrees) in alcohol.

SECOND COURSE

Shredded Organic Chicken & Mushroom Bruschettacelery, onions, red peppers & light red wine sauce

WINE: 2015 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir “La Bauge Au-dessus” AND the 2001 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir “La Bauge Au-dessus”

There are many different bottlings of ABC Pinot Noir produced.  We typically start with the “La Bauge Au-dessus” bottling because it is crisp, ethereal, snappy & lively with wonderful transparency & texture.  It was quite the surprise that Clendenen dug some of the 2001 out of his cellar to share & compare to the 2015.  I would say, many of the diners probably would not have thought of age-ability when tasting 2015, because of its sheer elegance & I am quite sure they were therefore quite shocked & mesmerized at how glorious the 2001 really showed.  VINO regulars well know how remarkable the ABC Pinots regularly get with additional bottle age, as we get to thankfully taste them quite frequently at our BYOB get togethers.

ENTRÉE

Seared Fennel Pollen Mahimahifresh linguine, braised fennel, white wine-lemon-clam jus, truffle butter, finished with fresh cracked pepper

WINE: 2014 Au Bon Climat “Hildegard” AND the 2010 Au Bon Climat “Hildegard”

Jim Clendenen is one of those wine minds, myself included, who believe the white Burgundies of old were not produced exclusively from Chardonnay.  I don’t think they kept track of the genetics of grape vines too much back then & I am sure there were therefore some mutations of Pinot Noir intermixed here & there.  So, the “Hildegard” bottling is in homage to that thought–a Grand, very sophisticated white wine produced from Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc (descendants of Pinot Noir) with a dash of Burgundy’s “other” white grape variety–Aligote–featuring the finest grapes, made more in a grand cru like style, which includes 20 months in 100% new oak & 100% malolactic.  (For the sommelier readers, another way to look at the profile of this wine, would be like comparing a classical Champagne grape mix (2/3’s Pinot & 1/3 Chardonnay) versus a Blanc de Blancs produced from 100% Chardonnay).  In any case, this wine is truly a standout, noteworthy, memorable white wine, well worth seeking out!

INTERMEZZO–2005 Clendenen Family Nebbiolo

There was a time with Clendenen was really into growing & producing Italian grape varieties in the Santa Barbara appellation.  (He was really good friends with many Italian winemakers like Elio Altare & Giorgio Rivetti, just to name 2 from Piemonte & quite a slew from Friuli as well).  As I once ran a small family wine distributor back in the late 80’s to the early 2000’s, I had actually FIRST contacted Clendenen to try & get his Italian look-a-like wines, then produced under his Il Podere dell’Olivos label–which included–Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Barbera, Tocai Fiulano & Malvasia.  I was therefore quite anxious to try his 2005 Nebbiolo, now 13 years old.  Thank you Jim for sharing this wine!

DESSERT

Pistacchio Olive Oil Cakewith raspberry sorbet

There is always so much to say about a Clendenen event.  Let’s just say, it was some kind of night!

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