I often think this blog should be renamed considering my life is not so much gullifereats as gullifereatsanddrinks. With my career developing in the wine industry, I am lucky enough to have exposure to and hopefully knowledge of some amazing wines. Therefore as a challenge to myself and to introduce you to some of the lesser known wines, I will be writing about a bottle a week. Why I bought it, why I like it and who I drank it with.
It was a cold and wet night in August and I was heading to Islington to visit a friend for dinner. Buried in my rucksack was a chilled bottle of white wine as we were determinedly clinging on to the last of the summer wine until autumn was well and truly upon us.
I’d been given the brief of a wine to match a tuna steak. As a cousin to the more red blooded beef steak, a tuna steak always suggests a white wine with more body than your classic vibrant and zingy white I would usually pair with fish. Searching through the selection at work I came upon one of my old favourites virtually designed for the threating storm clouds looming overhead. Wild Boy by A Bon Climat winery in California does not yell sophisticated, balanced and finesse. In fact at a first glance its label literally yells at you. However this is one of the finest Californian chardonnays on the market at the moment.
Made by the effervescent Jim Clendenen, Au Bon Climat vineyard produces some of the finest wines in California. The wines are heavily inspired by burgundy, eschewing the stereotypical high alcohol, full bodied Californian wines for a lighter, lightly oaked style of chardonnay’s and pinot noir. The cooling sea breezes and higher altitude means that Clendenen can control the ripening of the grapes and maintain the signature balanced acidity of the Burgundian style.
Wild boy itself is named after Clendenen. It is perhaps on the more extroverted side of Au Bon Climat’s range but still as beautifully balanced as all of his wines. There are hints of juicy citrus fruits and light oak, balanced with a refreshing soft acidity. It is deliberately created in a more opulent style than his other wines to reflect the untamed nature of the creator himself.
Jim’s tendency to court controversy with the critics is reason enough to try this wine. It certainly encompasses the winemakers unique personality. But personally, I still return to his range because it achieves an elegant balance which good wines are always striving to create. It may not be for those that love a punchy New World wine but it will pleasantly surprise those who favour a lighter style.