Our 10th “Pip” Pinot Noir, is all from Le Bon Climat Vineyard. This special vineyard, owned by Jim Clendenen, is planted on the southern edge of the Santa Maria Valley. The vineyard is planted to low yield clones and combines poor soil, cool but sunny weather, and diligent farming to produce a complex and balanced Pinot Noir. As Le Bon Climat matures, the quality of all the Pinot Noir from this vineyard is improving. The Clendenen Family label has been producing a small amount of a notable single vineyard Pinot Noir from Le Bon Climat. We also assign much of the Le Bon Climat Pinot Noir to bigger Pinot blends (such as Knox Alexander) under the Au Bon Climat label. But, these lots of Le Bon Climat Pinots were so unique we came up with the idea of “Pip” wines which are bottled early and aged mainly in neutral barrels to emphasize the fruit character.
Six different Pinot clones are planted at Le Bon Climat: two principal clones 667 and 23, and small amounts of 2A, Mt. Eden, 115 and 777. In 2018 all these clones performed well; all yielded and ripened well. We started with the early ripening clone 667 in C block in early September and finished with the big dark berry clone 23 in J block one month later. All of these grapes were handpicked and sorted in the vineyard. Most were fermented in 5 ton open tops, punched down twice a day by hand, pressed after 10 to 14 days, and put to barrel after some settling. The wine was then racked and blended after 8 months and then bottled 4 months later.
The “Pip” Pinot Noir is 100% Pinot Noir from Le Bon Climat Vineyard. The wine really “shows off” the Le Bon Climat flavor profile. Even though the wine is on the young side, the aromas are complex showing dried cherries, blackberries with a touch of Santa Maria brush in the nose. It is surprisingly rich in the mouth with youthful notes of fresh red berries. The balance is perfect; the tannin balances the fruit and acid is in balance with the depth. It is delicious with salmon or duck, the classic Pinot Noir matches, but the pure style this wine allows it to well with anything from the grill, from veggies to steak.