Saturday, 13 April 2013

Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara County Chardonnay 2010

So, back to Santa Barbara County for an ABC Chardonnay. Much to my amusement, Au Bon Climat is regularly referred to as 'ABC' - ABC also being the acronym for those who drink 'anything but Chardonnay' (read my review of the magnificent Ataraxia Chardonnay for further discussion). I was mildly interested to see how I would enjoy this wine as I have had a very mixed bag of US Chardonnays in the past (Frog's Leap was lovely but heinously overpriced and there are many hideously watery, acidic and plain bottles out there).

So, clocking in at around £22 (£18 if on offer), I thought ABC would be worth a punt and an interesting option. I also rather like the bottle.

Nose: Very classic oaked Chardonnay - vanilla, honey and oak in abundance with an intriguing hint of lavender and apricot. Quite fresh with some apple and perhaps orange (?) coming through but at the same time delightfully 'creamy'.

Palate: Wow. There is a quite enormous palate of vanilla and honey. This is a real mouth-filler with apricot and lemon coming in in the middle and battling it out.There's also something a bit buttery about this fellow - perhaps a slight crunch of shortbread in there - with just a touch of salt. I wouldn't go so far as to say this is balanced, but there's a certain focus to the intensity. It's forceful, big and brash but at the same time curiously captivating in its slight subtleties.

Body: Full - but strangely it mellows off remarkably well and is (contrary to the description above) extremely moreish and drinkable.

Finish: Strong and long. It develops well and finishes with a rather interesting spot of peppery lemon and a good zing of acidity. Crumbs, this finish goes on and on. This is a really top-quality effort.

Conclusion: Not sure if the sheer honey/vanilla power of this will appease or irritate people who dislike Chardonnay. In one way it's quite enjoyable, but in the other it typifies the extreme nature of modern Chardonnays - they can be insipid and watery or they can be a blast of oak. Needless to say, this wine divided opinion at the tasting and it's quite easy to see why. I, however, like it. It mellows very nicely (once you get over the sheer quantity of honey and vanilla) and has a seemingly endless finish.

Points: 88. Would certainly drink it again - which is good as I have some in the cellar!

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