Au Bon Climat - 'Los Alamos' Chardonnay 2018

$80.00
Sale price

Regular price $80.00

"Very fruit forward and unctuous, this Chardonnay is rich and complex with a tropical coconut, pineapple character. It shows abundant fruit, oak, and viscosity along with a nice mineral component. Beautiful. Enjoyable now or be rewarded with further ageing"

Vineyard:  The Los Alamos Vineyard is roughly 500 planted acres, most of which is on flat bottomland of the Los Alamos Valley that is sandwiched between the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Maria Valley appellations. The best grapes from this vineyard are found to the north on the gentle slopes of the hills. 

We source from grapes grown at the top of the wind-swept slopes of the Solomon Hills. On this hilltop the wind and shallower soils keep the yields low and the grapes struggle to ripen. Even though it is a struggle, the small crop ripens early. This is the first Chardonnay to arrive at the winery for the last 10 years. The small crop on these hardy vines is concentrated.  

Au Bon Climat and Los Alamos Vineyard share a lot of history. The first Au Bon Climat winery was a small barn on the Los Alamos Vineyard property. That was in 1982. Since then Los Alamos Vineyard has changed hands a few times and Au Bon Climat moved from that property in 1989.  Most of the owners of Los Alamos have been interested in farming cheaply and setting and ripening a lot of grapes. This sort of viticulture was of no interest to Au Bon Climat. In 2004, the farming of this vineyard was “handed over” to Tavo Acosta. Tavo is one of the new generation of viticulturists in the Santa Maria area. This group of grape growers are motivated to grow the best grapes to make the best wine and they drink wine, too. This newer farming is more hands on and expensive than the earlier methods, but the quality difference is huge. The improvements at Los Alamos vineyard are ongoing and this vineyard will be a large part of the Au Bon Climat portfolio going forward.

 

--------THE PRODUCER--------

Au Bon Climat

Founded in 1982, Au Bon Climat (which means "a well-exposed vineyard") produces internationally-recognized Pinot Noir & Chardonnay from grapes grown in California's Santa Barbara County.

Located at the foot of one of California's most rated vineyards, Bien Nacido in the Santa Maria Valley, one of the finest sites in California, ideal for the production of the refined, Burgundian style of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to which Jim so aspires, ABC, as it is more commonly referred to, has won universal acclaim for its wines thanks to Jim 'Wild Boy' Clendenen, its winemaker & owner.

He regards Burgundy as the benchmark to which he should aspire and buys clones of Pinot Noir from Burgundy in a bid to replicate as closely as possible the restraint and finesse of the wines from that region.

Jim eschewed a career in law for the lure of the vine following a month's stay in Burgundy & Champagne when he was 21. He has never looked back, although he is frequently to be found darkening the doors along the stretch of the Cote d'Or. Unsurprisingly his wines combine the minerally precision & grace of Burgundy with the flair of the West Coast.

 

--------THE GRAPE--------

Chardonnay

Chardonnay is without a doubt the most known and most widely planted white grape variety around the world. It is historically home in Burgundy where it produces a more refined, mineral and poised wines all up and down the Cote de Beaune and in Chablis. Throughout the new world it gained fame in both California and Australia where it is known to produce big, rich, buttery and tropical fruit-laden white wines.

 

--------THE REGION--------

California

California is the United States of America's largest and most important wine region. It produces 90% of the USA's total production - with the fair majority of that being red wines. Since it is 'always sunny in California' it is the perfect region to grow red grapes that need a lot of heat to ripen up. This has lead to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and an Italian grape varietal: Primitivo (Californian's call in Zinfandel) to being the most important red grapes. Chardonnay is the leading white followed by Sauvignon Blanc.

 

The best place to start when you are pairing food and wine is to think about the structural elements of both the food and wines. These elements are: sweetness, acidity, bitterness, umami, chilli heat and fat.

We have listed these elements in foods and how you can add wines with similar or contrasting elements to help create harmony in your matches.

Sweetness 

Sweet foods can overpower dry wines, white or red, making them appear acidic, neutral or bitter. In order to reduce this effect you should pair sweet foods with sweet wines. 

Acidity

Acidic foods, like fresh citrus, tomatoes or salads laden with vinaigrettes, will overpower the acidity in a wine making them appear flabby or less acidic than they were. In order to reduce this effect you should pair acidic foods with wines that have a higher acidity such as Champagne, Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.

Acidity is a key element in creating balance in a dish or a food-and-wine match. If the foods are going to reduce the acidity in the wines then you need to add your own bit of acidity by bringing a more acidic wine to the table. It is the same principle behind adding lemon juice to seafood dishes, as seafood tends to have quite low natural acidity.

Bitterness

If a food is high in bitterness then it will make the wine appear bitter, or it will increase the perception of bitterness (tannins) in the wine. In order to reduce this effect you should pair bitter foods with wines that are not bitter but rather have refreshing acidity.

Umami (Savoury)

Foods that are highly savoury, like mushrooms, will increase the bitterness or acidic perception we have in wines. In order to reduce this effect you should pair umami rich foods with wines that are very fruity and do not have medium-high tannins. 

Often foods that are more savoury are best matched with white wines like Chardonnay or Soave as these do not have tannins but have lots of fruity flavours nor do they have extremely high acidity.

Chilli Heat

Chilli heat is similar to umami rich foods where by it will increase the bitterness or acidic perception as well as the alcoholic burn we have in wines. In order to reduce this effect you should pair chilli heat rich foods with wines that are very fruity but also have higher sweetness.

Wines that are just a touch off-dry like many Gewurztraminer or Riesling work best with chilli foods like a curry as they will be both a bit sweet but also very fruity. If you aren't a white wine drinker then you should consider red wines that have lower tannins such as a Pinot Noir or a Gamay Noir. 

Fatty

Foods that are high in fat will make the wines feel flabby and less fruity. In order to reduce this effect you should pair fatty foods with wines that have high acidity. This is similar to the rule of adding in acidity (in the form of citrus) to seafood to help balance out not just the acidity but to cut down the perception of fattiness in the seafood. 

This is why when you are having a piece of red meat that is high in fat, like lamb, then you should pair it with a Pinot Noir instead of a Merlot as a Pinot Noir will have a higher acidity and will help to balance out the dish.

 

 

These rules will help you with starting to think about how to create pairings. It often isn't helpful to think about 'red wine and red meat' or 'white wine and fish' because it is actually the structural elements of the wine and food that are what need to be balanced. It is the acidity in white wines that work well with cutting through the fattiness of a piece of fish but you could get that acidity through a Pinot Noir. 

"Very fruit forward and unctuous, this Chardonnay is rich and complex with a tropical coconut, pineapple character. It shows abundant fruit, oak, and viscosity along with a nice mineral component. Beautiful. Enjoyable now or be rewarded with further ageing"

Vineyard:  The Los Alamos Vineyard is roughly 500 planted acres, most of which is on flat bottomland of the Los Alamos Valley that is sandwiched between the Santa Ynez Valley and Santa Maria Valley appellations. The best grapes from this vineyard are found to the north on the gentle slopes of the hills. 

We source from grapes grown at the top of the wind-swept slopes of the Solomon Hills. On this hilltop the wind and shallower soils keep the yields low and the grapes struggle to ripen. Even though it is a struggle, the small crop ripens early. This is the first Chardonnay to arrive at the winery for the last 10 years. The small crop on these hardy vines is concentrated.  

Au Bon Climat and Los Alamos Vineyard share a lot of history. The first Au Bon Climat winery was a small barn on the Los Alamos Vineyard property. That was in 1982. Since then Los Alamos Vineyard has changed hands a few times and Au Bon Climat moved from that property in 1989.  Most of the owners of Los Alamos have been interested in farming cheaply and setting and ripening a lot of grapes. This sort of viticulture was of no interest to Au Bon Climat. In 2004, the farming of this vineyard was “handed over” to Tavo Acosta. Tavo is one of the new generation of viticulturists in the Santa Maria area. This group of grape growers are motivated to grow the best grapes to make the best wine and they drink wine, too. This newer farming is more hands on and expensive than the earlier methods, but the quality difference is huge. The improvements at Los Alamos vineyard are ongoing and this vineyard will be a large part of the Au Bon Climat portfolio going forward.

 

--------THE PRODUCER--------

Au Bon Climat

Founded in 1982, Au Bon Climat (which means "a well-exposed vineyard") produces internationally-recognized Pinot Noir & Chardonnay from grapes grown in California's Santa Barbara County.

Located at the foot of one of California's most rated vineyards, Bien Nacido in the Santa Maria Valley, one of the finest sites in California, ideal for the production of the refined, Burgundian style of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to which Jim so aspires, ABC, as it is more commonly referred to, has won universal acclaim for its wines thanks to Jim 'Wild Boy' Clendenen, its winemaker & owner.

He regards Burgundy as the benchmark to which he should aspire and buys clones of Pinot Noir from Burgundy in a bid to replicate as closely as possible the restraint and finesse of the wines from that region.

Jim eschewed a career in law for the lure of the vine following a month's stay in Burgundy & Champagne when he was 21. He has never looked back, although he is frequently to be found darkening the doors along the stretch of the Cote d'Or. Unsurprisingly his wines combine the minerally precision & grace of Burgundy with the flair of the West Coast.

 

--------THE GRAPE--------

Chardonnay

Chardonnay is without a doubt the most known and most widely planted white grape variety around the world. It is historically home in Burgundy where it produces a more refined, mineral and poised wines all up and down the Cote de Beaune and in Chablis. Throughout the new world it gained fame in both California and Australia where it is known to produce big, rich, buttery and tropical fruit-laden white wines.

 

--------THE REGION--------

California

California is the United States of America's largest and most important wine region. It produces 90% of the USA's total production - with the fair majority of that being red wines. Since it is 'always sunny in California' it is the perfect region to grow red grapes that need a lot of heat to ripen up. This has lead to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and an Italian grape varietal: Primitivo (Californian's call in Zinfandel) to being the most important red grapes. Chardonnay is the leading white followed by Sauvignon Blanc.

 

The best place to start when you are pairing food and wine is to think about the structural elements of both the food and wines. These elements are: sweetness, acidity, bitterness, umami, chilli heat and fat.

We have listed these elements in foods and how you can add wines with similar or contrasting elements to help create harmony in your matches.

Sweetness 

Sweet foods can overpower dry wines, white or red, making them appear acidic, neutral or bitter. In order to reduce this effect you should pair sweet foods with sweet wines. 

Acidity

Acidic foods, like fresh citrus, tomatoes or salads laden with vinaigrettes, will overpower the acidity in a wine making them appear flabby or less acidic than they were. In order to reduce this effect you should pair acidic foods with wines that have a higher acidity such as Champagne, Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.

Acidity is a key element in creating balance in a dish or a food-and-wine match. If the foods are going to reduce the acidity in the wines then you need to add your own bit of acidity by bringing a more acidic wine to the table. It is the same principle behind adding lemon juice to seafood dishes, as seafood tends to have quite low natural acidity.

Bitterness

If a food is high in bitterness then it will make the wine appear bitter, or it will increase the perception of bitterness (tannins) in the wine. In order to reduce this effect you should pair bitter foods with wines that are not bitter but rather have refreshing acidity.

Umami (Savoury)

Foods that are highly savoury, like mushrooms, will increase the bitterness or acidic perception we have in wines. In order to reduce this effect you should pair umami rich foods with wines that are very fruity and do not have medium-high tannins. 

Often foods that are more savoury are best matched with white wines like Chardonnay or Soave as these do not have tannins but have lots of fruity flavours nor do they have extremely high acidity.

Chilli Heat

Chilli heat is similar to umami rich foods where by it will increase the bitterness or acidic perception as well as the alcoholic burn we have in wines. In order to reduce this effect you should pair chilli heat rich foods with wines that are very fruity but also have higher sweetness.

Wines that are just a touch off-dry like many Gewurztraminer or Riesling work best with chilli foods like a curry as they will be both a bit sweet but also very fruity. If you aren't a white wine drinker then you should consider red wines that have lower tannins such as a Pinot Noir or a Gamay Noir. 

Fatty

Foods that are high in fat will make the wines feel flabby and less fruity. In order to reduce this effect you should pair fatty foods with wines that have high acidity. This is similar to the rule of adding in acidity (in the form of citrus) to seafood to help balance out not just the acidity but to cut down the perception of fattiness in the seafood. 

This is why when you are having a piece of red meat that is high in fat, like lamb, then you should pair it with a Pinot Noir instead of a Merlot as a Pinot Noir will have a higher acidity and will help to balance out the dish.

 

 

These rules will help you with starting to think about how to create pairings. It often isn't helpful to think about 'red wine and red meat' or 'white wine and fish' because it is actually the structural elements of the wine and food that are what need to be balanced. It is the acidity in white wines that work well with cutting through the fattiness of a piece of fish but you could get that acidity through a Pinot Noir.