Californian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were taken to new heights in 1982 when Jim ‘Wild Boy’ Clendenen and his then business partner, Adam Tolmach set up this Central Coast winery in Santa Barbara County. A believer of cool climate viticulture for these varieties, Clendenen chose sites in the Santa Maria and Santa Ynez Valleys where ocean fog from the Pacific cool down vineyard temperatures in the early morning and late evening. With Burgundy as his inspiration, he uses clones from this region and is constantly picking up tips from growers there to further refine his wines. Fruit is picked at optimal ripeness though not at the risk of losing the natural acidity in the grapes. Only the finest oak from François Frères is used with just a small proportion of the final wine making their way into these barrels. The Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir is light and elegant using mostly bought in fruit to produce an entry level wine that is balanced and representative of the variety. It develops some complexity in bottle but it is its freshness and fruit ripeness that give it appeal. La Bauge Pinot Noir combines cherry and plum fruit with a seductive spicy edge enveloped in chocolate richness. Excellent value is to be found here in this structured and ageworthy offering. Hailing from a single vineyard site, the Sanford & Benedict Chardonnay is Clendenen’s finest white wine. Rich but tense, complex and layered, ripe apple and citrus notes develop a more caramel and toffee profile with age. This is a classy, fine wine that reaches its peak at around 10 years of age.