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Au Bon Climat 2014 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay

Au Bon Climat 2014 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay from California is sold as a fine wine. I opened it on 20th March, a week night which was very decadent, but I’d had a gruelling day at work, then worked at home until 8.30pm and knew that Wednesday was going to equally demanding so I wanted a quality wine with which to unwind and enjoy the rest of the evening. I hadn’t tried a Californian Chardonnay prior to this one and I really didn’t know what to expect. The were no clues on the back of the bottle only a large white label which said ‘Wine of USA, Lot 1’ with some information about sulphites and milk. The colour of the wine was a beautiful pale gold with an attractive shimmer and a slight green hue. The nose was as fresh as a summer’s day with apples and lime. On the palate it was soft and weighty. Fresh with delicious yet subtle pineapple, lemon and a wonderful toasty, creamy finish. It left a satisfying oily feel on the palate. It was delicious and completely moreish.

I was planning on eating marinated, grilled salmon, boiled new potatoes and boiled frozen mixed vegetables. I knew that the wine would be perfect with such a simple meal because this wine needed to be centre stage. I was reminded of a Twitter conversation with wine journalist Joe Fattorini (I like his work on Channel 5s The Wine Show), Fiona Beckett (I enjoy her wine articles in The Guardian) and Jancis Robinson, Master of Wine no less. I loved it when, on The Wine Show, she said she would prefer a cup of tea with a particular dessert rather than one of the wines she was to choose from  and I particularly enjoyed the 11 minute radio 4 broadcast called ‘The Parker effect’ where Jancis discusses the impact Robert Parker had on the wine industry with his 100 point system of grading wine. If you are interested in listening to it click on the link.

I wrote the Twitter post 03/03/18 and I knew it would be controversial. It was about a fine red wine, Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 from Napa Valley that I was unsuccessfully attempting to match with food. I wrote that ‘The more fine wines I buy and try and attempt to match with food the more I think of the Emperor’s new clothes.’ It had 15.5% alcohol volume and I found it to be overwhelmingly heavy, intense and very difficult to pair with food. The response to my tweet from Joe was a comparison to a very serious composer of opera. Wagner’s music is the main event, nothing else can be the focus when The Ring Cycle is played he advised and as a music teacher I understood this perfectly. He also wrote that wines like these need ‘brutally simple dishes’. Fiona asked me if I would be as critical of food recipes which were offering ways of combining different foods and Jancis advised that ‘some wines are too subtle to be corralled into complimentary status.’ The wine is the star of the show and may need to stand alone.

Au Bon Climat 2014 is a star and can stand alone. it was amazing and my new favourite wine. Although it’s easy to drink, it should be savoured and loved, sniffed, swirled and discussed. I loved this wine on its own and with the simple salmon dish. I will definitely be buying this one again.

Au Bon Climat 2014 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay – purchased from Majestic Wines in Poole £27.99. Mixed six price of £24.99.

Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 purchased from Majestic Wines in Poole from Napa Valley -£28. Mixed six price of £25

If you enjoyed reading about these fine wines then have a look at my Fine wine post about Amorone

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