The late Jim Clendenen founded Au Bon Climat (ABC) in 1982. He became famous for making pioneering wines from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on California’s Central Coast. He passed away in 2021 and is remembered as one of the most charismatic and influential people of his vinous generation.
Jim’s passion for wine was born from a trip to Burgundy in the mid-1970s when he studied Law at UC Santa Barbara. During subsequent visits, his enthusiasm for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grew, and he became convinced that the Californian hills were capable of something special with these two noble varieties.
Au Bon Climat translates as “a well-exposed vineyard”, a name that suits the vineyards’ coastal position, with its benevolent Pacific fog and cooling breeze. Making the most of these conditions, ABC buy clones from Burgundy. This contributes to creating wines that emulate Europe’s restraint and finesse but with a magic touch of New World flair.
The vineyards ABC source their grapes from read as a ‘who’s who’ of Central Coast vineyards. Bien Nacido and Jim’s “Le Bon Climat” are the most significant contributors. The influence of the Pacific can be felt standing in the canyon of Bien Nacido, where the warm days and cool nights characterise this superb terroir. Le Bon Climat, in contrast, consists of mainly hilltop vineyards which were certified organic in 2003.
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