Tribute dinner for Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat with TNs

Starting off the 3 day weekend Chardonnay Symposium in Santa Maria Valley local winemaking pioneer, Jim Clendenen, of Au Bon Climat and other labels, was honored by an elite group of winemakers and friends at the historic Bien Nacido Adobe located on the esteem property of the Bien Nacido Vineyards. The Adobe is over 100 years old and served as a dramatic back drop for this special tribute. Partner, Bob Lindquist of Qupe, Frank Ostini of Hitching Post Winery and Restaurant, Gavin Chanin of his newly opened Chanin Wine Co. and others were on hand to regale the crowd with stories of Clendenen`s influence on them as well as the wine industry, locally, nationally and internationally.

A fabulous 4 course dinner was prepared for over 100 attendees by the renown Chef Rick Manson formerly of Chef Rick`s and now of the Far Western Tavern Restaurant in Orcutt. Each course was paired with wines specially selected by the speakers and celebrant. Live music was provided by Gary Burk of Costa de Oro Winery, his wife, Teresa, and friends who called themselves the Tepusquet Tornados. They played some fine Classic Rock.

The menu/ wines:

Hors d`Oeuvres:
Crispy Oyster Tostadas- jicama guacamole, chipotle creama, salsa ranchera

New Mexican Corn Flaps- smoked Avila salmon, chive cream

Oak Grilled Scallops- applewood bacon, maple, Dijon

Artichoke and Goat Cheese Fritters- roasted red pepper dippin` sauce

Paired with:

2010 AU BON CLIMAT SANTA BARBARA HISTORIC COLLECTION BIEN NACIDO VINEYARD CHARDONNAY- IMHO, all good parties/ celebrations should welcome the guests with a glass of wine; this was our introduction to the grounds and first appetizers; it was beautifully matched with the creaminess and spice of the tostados, we`re off to a resounding start.

2010 SANDHI BIEN NACIDO CHARDONNAY- made by top sommelier, Rajat Paar of the Michael Mina Restaurant Group and RN 74 co-owner; the acidity and lushness of this wine also perfectly complimented the hors d`oeuvres.


Pecan Wild Halibut- really wild chardonnay lemon garlic cream pecan Dungeness crab

Paired with:

2008 CLENDENEN FAMILY VINEYARDS LE BON CLIMAT CHARDONNAY- another excellent selection which I assume was done by Jim, this had a lightly toasted nose which continued on into the early entrance; it was rich and full of fresh citrus notes and had an oily texture which nicely coated the palate all the way to the back end; it`s the acidity that really makes this work with the course.

2011 CHANIN LOS ALAMOS CHARDONNAY- theres some very impressive wines coming from Jims protégé who recently set out on his own and this is one of them; good citrus and fresh floral notes, nice acidity and a soft and pleasing mouth feel.

Oak Grilled Beef Tenderloin- andouille, corn, mushrooms

Paired with:

2011 HITCHING POST BIEN NACIDO PINOT NOIR- fresh, ripe cherry/ berry flavors abound in layers; its light color demarks the lightness to follow aromatically and with the taste profile; nuisances of wood seem to highlight the oak grilled meat to perfection.

2006 QUPE 25TH ANNIVERSARY BIEN NACIDO X BLOCK SYRAH- this is the high end statement from Bob to raise the bar in his fantastic line up of Syrahs; as the rich, dark color suggests, it is serious, intense, powerful and yet elegant; it`s as balanced as it is big; I love the spicy pepper that reminds of Northern Rhone and the whole package worked amazingly well with the beef.

2006 CLENDENEN FAMILY VINEYARDS BIEN NACIDO ESTATE PLANTINGS PETIT VERDOT- another long term aging potential at 13.5% alc.; I believe this was released in the last couple of years or so as are many of Jim`s wines as since he is totally on top of quality control when the wines are ready for the market as opposed to making more space in the winery; the earthiness and firm tannins an acidity work well with this course.


Gorgonzola- mint, walnuts, Jalepeno crisps, marmalade

Chocolate, Chocolate Hoe Cake- warm Santa Maria berries, southern style Chantilly cream

Paired with:

1995 EMERIL`S ROOTS DESSERT ALEATICO- made for Emeril Lagasse, this red Italian varietal is a brown maple colored delight with full on sweet maple chocolate covered berries; at 16.5% alc., the acidity balances out the high alcohol perfectly; a great pairing.

It was a grand evening and since we were seated outside in the courtyard in front of the Adobe, the weather was atypically pleasant, comfortable and clear.

The tribute was way overdue and appropriate for the number one ambassador for all things wine in the Santa Barbara County.


Some pics:

From the brochure for the event:

Welcome to Au Bon Climat…
The Au Bon Climat winery, located on the world-famous Bien Nacido Vineyard, is owned by winemaker Jim Clendenen. Jim, the “Mind Behind” Au Bon Climat, is recognized worldwide for his classically styled wines. In addition to his Burgundian focused ABC wines, Jim is also highly regarded for his Italian and other French varietals.

In 1998 Jim purchased 100 acres in Sisquoc along the south side of the Sisquoc River and directly across the Santa Maria Valley from Bien Nacido (and the same distance from the Pacific Ocean) with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Viognier as the original plantings. Le Bon Climat is farmed organically and has been certified organic since 2003.

Burgundian in sensibility, but with California style, is one way to describe Jim Clendenen’s Chardonnays; structure and restraint melded with bountiful opulence is another way. When asked about his philosophy, “wine is all about balance, elegance, and finesse. The higher the quality of the wine, the more of those attributes it possesses.”

more pics: