Au Bon Climat
When it comes to pioneers, none have done more for California’s Central Coast region than the late great Jim Clendenen. The original ‘Wild Boy ’sadly passed in 2021, but his legacy and influence continue to be felt throughout the Golden State. Jim discovered his passion for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay when travelling through Burgundy in the mid-1970s. At the time he was studying Law at UC Santa Barbara, but promptly abandoned this vocation in favour of a life of wine.
At this point in California’s wine history, the famed 1976 ‘Judgement of Paris’ blind tasting of California vs France had catapulted a wildly overlooked New World region onto the world stage. All eyes were on Californian wine, but most of the quality coming out of the state was focused on Napa. The Central Coast, which stretches from Santa Barbara up to San Francisco, was an untapped resource. The bracing, pacific influence can be felt in all of Jim’s wonderful wines.
Au Bon Climat – translating to ‘a well-exposed vineyard’ – has come to define these cooler, coastal wines that are now wildly popular with Californian wine lovers. Jim was the man who started it all, and he is greatly missed (though his brilliant daughter is doing a wonderful job continuing his legacy). As Jancis Robinson MW – who coined his ‘Wild Boy’ nickname – put it: “The wine world really is much the poorer without this brave pioneer.”