2012 Au Bon Climat, Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir, Santa Ynez Valley, California, USA

2012 Au Bon Climat, Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir, Santa Ynez Valley, California, USA

Product: 20121170823
2012 Au Bon Climat, Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir, Santa Ynez Valley, California, USA

Description

Pale, with a haunting red fruit nose. All new (French) oak but you’d never guess, such is the integration of wood and purity of the fruit. This oozes Pinot Noir character. Crunchy red fruit on the palate – redcurrants and cherries at the forefront. This is amazingly fleet footed and dances across the palate with a finish that seems to last for minutes. I’ve long been an admirer of ABC’s Pinots but this seems to be on another level. California’s answer to Chambolle Musigny perhaps? Totally irresistible now, this will be capable of ageing for another 5+ years. Fergus Stewart, Private Account Manager

The 2012 Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir has a full nose of red cherries and ripe strawberries. The macerated morello cherry character continues on the palate, complemented by subtle notes of oak and vanilla. The beauty of this wine comes through on the refreshing, herbaceous edge to the palate, which has grip and presence, with the tannins adding definition. This could do with another year perhaps to be at its peak but is already a wonderful wine.
Catriona Felstead MW, Wine Buyer

Founded in 1982, Au Bon Climat (which the winemaker translates as "a well-exposed vineyard") produces internationally-recognized Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Blanc wine from grapes grown in California's Santa Barbara County. The Au Bon Climat winery is located on the world-famous Bien Nacido Vineyard, and is owned by winemaker Jim Clendenen. Like an extra from a Spinal Tap video or a lost member from the Beach Boys,  Jim Clendenen is quintessentially Californian in style, while his wines take on an old world and classic style.  Jim Clendenen has full respect for his peers in Burgundy and says, '… I like to think our wines can share that stage.' He is responsible for some of the most balanced and delicious wines this side of Burgundy.

A trusted and faithful supplier with Berry Bros. & Rudd over the years, we have grown to love and respect the style and panache present in the Au Bon Climat wines.  Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that present a beautiful perfume and balance so ever present in top end Burgundy yet with a New World / Californian brightness to each wines. 

Jim Clendenen has been no stranger to praise from the trade, indeed Au Bon Climat has been on Robert Parker's short list of Best Wineries in the World, and has in the past been selected by Oz Clark as one of fifty world-wide creators of Modern Classic Wines.  His basic wines with their barrel ageing before release are delicious early in their lives, but having tasted back vintages I can attest to the fact that Au Bon Climat wines (especially the single vineyard offerings) have an ability to gain great complexity with age over the next 3 – 5 years.
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About this WINE

Au Bon Climat

Au Bon Climat

The late Jim Clendenen founded Au Bon Climat (ABC) in 1982. He became famous for making pioneering wines from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on California’s Central Coast. He passed away in 2021 and is remembered as one of the most charismatic and influential people of his vinous generation.

Jim’s passion for wine was born of a trip to Burgundy in the mid-1970s when he was a student studying Law at UC Santa Barbara. During subsequent visits his enthusiasm for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grew and he became convinced that the Californian hills were capable of something special with these two noble varieties.

Au Bon Climat translates as “a well-exposed vineyard” a name suiting the coastal position of the vineyards, with its benevolent Pacific fog and cooling breeze. Making the most of these conditions ABC buy clones from Burgundy. This contributes to creating wines which emulate the restraint and finesse of Europe but with a magic touch of New World flair.

The vineyards ABC source their grapes from reads as a ‘who’s who’ of Central Coast vineyards. Bien Nacido and Jim’s own “Le Bon Climat” are the biggest contributors. The influence of the Pacific can be felt standing in the canyon of Bien Nacido where the warm days and cool nights characterise this superb terroir. Le Bon Climat in contrast consists of mainly hilltop vineyards. Jim acquired 40ha here in 1998 and has applied his typically rigorous approach to get the best from the plot.

Like most of best early pioneers on USA’s West Coast Jim needed no encouragement to recognise the importance of the soil. He farms all is own vineyards organically to maximise the personality of each site coming through in the wines. Le Bon Climat was certified organic in 2003.

A wide array of wines are produced from ABCs own vineyards and from the close relationships the estate enjoys with other growers.

They are classified into four categories. “Santa Barbara County Classics” are the most accessible in the range, both in terms of price and their sheer drinkability; “Single Vineyard” wines are an ever-changing selection of expressions from remarkable single sites; “Historic Vineyards” represent the five icons of the Central Coast, and the “Blue Series” which show off the very best cuveés, have a high proportion of new oak and reward a long bottle ageing.

It would be difficult to overstate Jim’s impact on Californian wine-making. Just as it is difficult to overstate the quality of the wines.

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Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.

Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.

Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.

The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.

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