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Au Bon Climat

Wine Specs
Santa Maria Valley
Alcohol %

2011 Nebbiolo "Punta Exclamitiva"

Clendenen Family Vineyard - SMV

This is our “reserve” Nebbiolo. The wine, though aged in barrel for five years, has fresh floral notes and shows wild strawberry and plum aromatics. The mouth filling texture accompanies dried cherry flavors which transition into a clean bright finish with good acid balance. Scored 93 points Antonio Galloni's Vinous; 91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

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Jim Clendenen loves Italy and Italian wine. After visiting Italy numerous times, he decided to make wine from Italian grape varieties, in Santa Barbara County. His first attempts with Muscat and Nebbiolo were revolutionary at the time. These wines were different and had a few fans. In the 1980s Jim and a few other courageous souls were making wines from Italian varieties in California. In 1994 Barbera, Nebbiolo, Tocai Friulano and Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio) were planted at Bien Nacido Vineyard for Clendenen Family. The stage was set to make high quality wines from Italian varieties in the Santa Maria Valley. The two best clones of Nebbiolo were planted, Lampia and Michet which has forked canes. The early years were not easy. The yields for both the Tocai and Nebbiolo were tiny.  Once the vines got established and the proper pruning method was put in practice the yields and wine quality improved dramatically.

Once the grape growing was figured out, the winemaking was next.  Nebbiolo is a lighter colored, high acid red wine that requires a number of years in barrel to “come together”. This was a blessing. We were forced to keep our Nebbiolo in barrel for years. We started using 500 liter Hungarian oak barrels for aging Nebbiolo and the larger format proved better for long term aging.  In 2006 we released our first Clendenen Family Nebbiolo; the vintage was 2000. The wine had spent 5 years in barrel and one year in bottle, and was what we were looking for. The beautiful parts of Nebbiolo were shining through and the shrill acid and brutal tannins had all evolved and harmonized. The wine had balance, elegance and Old World charm. The winemaking protocol continues.

The Nebbiolo is carefully picked and sorted in the vineyard. All the grapes are destemmed and fermented in 5 ton, open top fermenters. The must is punched down at least twice a day and pressed at dryness. The wine is put in 500L barrels, one third of these are new, and racked once a year. We keep a close eye on this wine to keep it in good shape for long term barrel aging. After this period in barrel, the wine is very clear due to low pH and extended barrel time. No filtering or fining is necessary at bottling.

Our 2011 “Reserve” Nebbiolo

Our “reserve” Nebbiolo has even longer barrels age then the other CFV Nebbiolos. We bottled the 2011 after six years in barrel and released the wine after more than a year in the bottle. We only bottle the “Punta” when the quality is there. The wine is always 100% from the lower yielding Michet clone and aged in 100% new oak barrels. Due to the power of the wine, the oak is subtle, fitting nicely into the complexity of this well aged red. The Punta Nebbiolo has more of everything: more flowers, more flavor, more soul, more intensity and more age. Contemplate this wine with some Piedmontese white truffle pasta. It will go with many dishes but the perfect match is truffles. 

Antonio Galloni's Vinous

Score: 93 points  "The 2011 Nebbiolo Punta Exclamativa is a wild, exotic wine. The cool year, along with the Michet clone planted here, combine to give a rich, plush Nebbiolo endowed with tremendous aromatic depth. Succulent red cherry, plum, kirsch, melted road tar, cinnamon, blood orange and star anise give the 2011 its decidedly exotic character. The 2011 is maybe just a touch diffuse, but I find it alluring just the same." -- Antonio Galloni

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Score: 91 points  "Medium garnet, the 2011 Nebbiolo Punta Exclamitiva has a very "Nebbiolo" nose of dried red and black cherries, old leather, tobacco and chocolate box nuances with notes of sage, scrubby earth and dried cranberry. It's medium to full-bodied with lovely layers of dried fruits and amaro-like spices in the mouth, framed by firm, grainy tannins and great freshness, finishing very long and very savory. Yes! Jim Clendenen says, "I would blame most New World failed efforts of Nebbiolo on poor clonal material." His Nebbiolo spent more than five years in barrel, "the way I believe a riserva wine should be."

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