Au Bon Climat has been buying Pinot Noir grapes from the Kick-On vineyard for 20 years. The vineyard is in the Los Alamos Valley, which is in northern Santa Barbara County. It is situated between two notable AVAs: the very cool Santa Maria Valley to the north and the slightly warmer Santa Ynez Valley to the south. The region has the best charcateristics of both showing layered flavors along with depth from fully ripened grapes. While not getting the notoriety of the neighboring AVAs, this is prime vineyard land. Los Alamos has a few large vineyards controlled by big wineries or big vineyard companies. These “insiders” saw the potential of the Los Alamos Valley years ago.
Over the 20 years as a customer, we have seen improvements in farming and now, with the vines aging, the resulting wines have been gotten better and better. The older vines are more consistent, and the wines have increased in richness and depth. While barrel tasting the 2018 Kick-On Vineyards Pinot Noir, it was evident these wines could stand on their own. We had determined the better parts of the vineyard years before, and now we are seeing that potential realized with the 2018 Kick-on Pinot Noir.
We harvested the Pinot Noir from Kick-On Vineyard in the middle of September, which is as close to normal as we get. The grapes had slowly and fully ripened. Three clones are planted in our “special” section of Kick-On: 115, 777 and 23. We have figured out that the 115 and 777 perform the best for a single vineyard wine. Our 2018 Kick-On Pinot Noir is a 50/50 blend of clones 115 and 777.
The first vintages from Au Bon Climat winery were all from grapes grown in the Los Alamos Valley. That was only 39 years ago. The improvements in farming and winery equipment have changed the flavor and aromatic profiles of wines made from Los Alamos grapes. These improvements and with a strong 2018 vintage yielded a delicious wine worthy of our first single vineyard Kick-On wine.
The 2018 Kick -On Vineyard Pinot Noir has a beautiful deep garnet color. The initial aromas of spice and earth transition nicely to berries of all sorts. 18 months in Francois Freres barrels, 33% new, increased the wine's depth, texture, and interest. This obviously youthful Pinot Noir has plenty of aging possibilities. The wine’s dominant primary flavors and aromas will go nicely with more assertive foods, such as grilled duck or salmon.