Isabelle is unlike any other Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir. It is a blended high end Pinot Noir using the best barrels from at least six different vineyards. These vineyards range from two vineyards in northern California one in the Anderson Valley in Mendocino County and another in the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County and five or six of the top vineyards from the Central Coast. Making the best wine from our best barrels is the goal, so the blend varies year to year.
The cool spring and summer of 2009 was a bit worrisome for some winemakers. The development of the grapes was slow due to the chilly weather. Then everything changed with a couple weeks of warmer weather in late August which continued early September. This dramatic warming trend pushed a late harvest to a normal harvest. We picked the Pinot Noir from the Arroyo Grande Valley and Russian River in late August and the other areas in early September. Mother Nature has a way of "evening things out".
Even though we had a heat spike, none of the Isabelle components were harvest overripe. After careful hand picking and vineyard sorting the grapes were fermented in 5 ton open top fermenters. All lots were pressed at dryness and put in barrel after little settling. All the Isabelle barrels were new Francois Frères French oak barrels; many were air dried for three years. These special three year air dried barrels are the best barrels coopered at Francois Frères. All the Isabelle barrels were gravity racked in the late spring and the wine was assembled after 15 months in barrel. The blend rested in barrel for another 9 months prior to bottling, no fining or filtration was necessary.
This is dark, rich Pinot with a lengthy finish. Flavors and aromas are dominated by berries, cherries and cola notes. The oak component is evident but not out of balance. This delicious Pinot Noir will be enjoyable with many food choices. Start with the classic Pinot Noir matches of Wild Salmon or lamb.