Au Bon Climat continues its homage to the many outstanding vineyards in Santa Barbara County with limited editions of its special designation Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays in their “Santa Barbara County Historic Vineyards Collection". Since its founding in 1982, Au Bon Climat has sourced grapes from some of the most celebrated vineyards on the Central Coast. Some might say that Clendenen himself has contributed significantly to the reputation of these sites.
Bien Nacido Vineyard: Owned by the Miller Family, the 1970s saw Bien Nacido being developed as a commercial grape source with the Millers selling fruit primarily to large producers from grapes planted along the valley floor. It was in the 80s, with producers such as Clendenen, Lindquist, and others convinced the Bien Nacido to sell them fruit in smaller quantities. The early 90s the vineyard started planting “custom blocks,” with long-term acreage contracts for quality hillside vines. Today, much of what Au Bon Climat sources is fruit that has been planted “exclusively” for us.
If there is one characteristic that stands this varietal apart from other growing regions, it is in the complex aromatics that suggests cranberry, dried rose petals and earth. The Pinot Noir fruit from Bien Nacido for this wine is clone 115 from block 2. The wine was made with 60% whole clusters, a technique used in Au Bon Climat Pinots of the past. This wine possesses intense fruit character, baking spice notes, and layers upon layers of complexity.
Score: 92+ "Moving to the reds, the 2017 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard spent 18 months in 75% new French oak prior to bottling. Its medium translucent ruby color is followed by a spicy wine with plenty of tart cherry and mulberry fruits, notes of spicy oak, iodine, and flowers, bright acidity, and a lengthy finish. It's still youthful and a little rough around the edges, so give bottles 2-3 years of bottle age. Another impressive release from this estate."