Au Bon Climat has made Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara County for 30 years. Our winemaking philosophy and winemaking practices have changed little over that time. Older equipment has been replaced by newer technologies, but better equipment improved the wines and allowed for gentler processing. We still hand pick and sort heavily in the vineyard. We still use open top fermenters allowing us to “punch down” by hand. Our top Pinot Noirs are never pumped, only moved by gravity. These high end Pinots are aged in new French Oak. Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir is basically the same since 1982, only better.
Isabelle is unlike any other Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir. Our top Pinot Noirs prior to making Isabelle in 1994 were all single vineyard wines. Isabelle was the first top end Pinot Noir that was a blend from different locations. After the birth of his daughter in 1995, Jim Clendenen wanted to make a special wine in her honor. Isabelle has developed into a unique young woman and her wine is unique for Au Bon Climat, a blended, high end Pinot Noir. We blend 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, along with 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 has varied over the years. After tasting the best lots, we go through the barrel selection process. This tasting process takes a few days, after the initial selection, the barrels are reevaluated a few months later just prior to putting Isabelle together.
Antonio Galloni's Vinous
Score: 93 "Another super-expressive wine in this range, the 2014 Pinot Noir Isabelle is rich, pliant and creamy. Red berry fruit, orange peel, mint and spice are all pushed forward. This is in an especially succulent, racy style, but there is good structure and tons of potential here. The wine needs time to develop the full breadth of its aromatic complexity."
Robert Parker - Lisa Perrotti-Brown
Score 92+ "Pale to medium ruby-purple in color, the 2014 Pinot Noir Isabelle has fragrant notes of cranberries, red cherries and rose hip on the nose, with touches of dried herbs, underbrush and raspberry leaves. Medium-bodied, elegantly fruited and with fine tannins, plus bags of freshness, it has delicate red berry and earth flavors and good length."