Santa Barbara Historic Vineyard Collection
Santa Rita Hills, California
The first “great“ vineyard in Santa Barbara County was planted by Richard Sanford and Michael Benedict in 1971 in the cool Sta. Rita Hills AVA. It is one of the pioneering vineyards in what is now known as the Santa Rita Hills AVA. Jim Clendenen noticed the “magic” of Sanford & Benedict early on. He purchased a few tons of grapes in the mid-1980s, and since then, Au Bon Climat has received grapes from this vineyard every year; a relationship of over 4 decades.
This vineyard has a high degree of calcified marine deposits in the soil, the vineyard orientation is a very cool northern-facing site at an elevation of about 600 feet, and the ocean breezes in what is now the Santa Rita Hills appellation (a sub-appellation of the Santa Ynez Valley) all combine for compelling terroir. The fruit for the Chardonnay (UCD 4 clone) comes from the oldest section of Sanford & Benedict Vineyard, planted in the early 70’s.
The Chardonnay was hand harvested, whole cluster pressed and put into barrel. Fermented in 75% new François Frères French oak barrels. The wine completed alcoholic and malo-lactic fermentation in the barrel, and remained surlies until the following August. After racking and a light fining, the wine went back into barrel. Barrel age was a total of 20 months.
95 points – Wine Enthusiast