Au Bon Climat’s 2015 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay

Au Bon Climat’s 2015 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay.

The weather is still warm, and I’m still reaching for chardonnay. It’s always a nice refreshment in the late afternoon, or as a compliment to a light dinner. When you take a look at the ingredients for this Chicken Salad’s dressing, you might conclude it is not very light. However, the sour cream does lighten it up a bit allowing all the other flavors to come through. This recipe could easily be doubled. As is, it will serve four as a side salad, or two as an entrée salad.

Chicken Salad with Pine Nuts

1/4 c. sour cream

2 1/2 Tbsp. mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. Dijon-style prepared mustard

1 tsp. honey

1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

1/8 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

8 oz. skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1 stalk celery, chopped

6 leaves romaine lettuce

6 leaves radicchio, raw

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. olive oil

2 slices red onion

2 1/2 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted

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Prepare the dressing by whisking together the sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, honey, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sear chicken in a covered skillet for 2 minutes on each side. Continue to rotate periodically and simmer covered until juice runs clear when pierced and pressed. Set aside and let cool, then dice or pull into shreds.

Meanwhile, stir together the lemon juice and olive oil. Tear the lettuce into small pieces and toss with the lemon and oil mixture.

Combine the chicken with the celery and toss with the prepared dressing.

When ready to serve, divide lettuce between plates and top with the chicken salad. Garnish with red onion rings and a sprinkling of pine nuts.

Pair this dish with Au Bon Climat’s 2015 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay. This barrel fermented, full-bodied chardonnay has mouth-filling citrus fruit and a palate-cleansing, bright finish.

Their 32nd release has an identity of its own. They have used the same vineyards for a number of years. The blend is from four well-farmed vineyards: Bien Nacido, Sierra Madre, Los Alamos and Rancho Vinedo.

All the chardonnay is carefully handpicked and sorted in the vineyard. After harvesting, the grapes are whole cluster pressed, and juice is quickly settled and chilled to begin barrel fermentation. The wine is dry and completed malolactic fermentation.

The 2015 Santa Barbara County Chardonnay is a beautiful example of the Au Bon Climat style. The flinty, stony aromas stand out while in the background is a hard spice note from surlee barrel aging. There are notes of lemon-lime and soft vanilla. With the first taste, it is irresistible. This is one of those wines that invites the consumer to have another glass. At this young age, this wine would be perfect with poultry, pairing well with this honey-kissed chicken salad topped with the toasted pine nuts.


John David Finley is a freelance writer and author of the cookbook, "Sacred Meals from our Family Table," which features Santa Barbara County wines. He can be reached at