2016 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard
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.
Antonio Galloni's Vinous
Score: 96 "The 2016 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard is outrageously beautiful. Sweet dark cherry, plum, rose petal, mint and blood orange all run through this racy, captivating Pinot. Vibrant and nuanced, with striking exoticism, the 2016 comes alive in the glass with tons of vibrancy and a level of purity that is hard to fully do justice to with words. In short, this is an utterly magnificent wine from Jim Clendenen. The 2016 was done with 50% whole clusters and saw 40% new oak. Don't miss it!" - Antonio Galloni
Score: 92 points "Rich, featuring juicy dark fruit and spice flavors, backed by fresh acidity and medium-grained tannins. Finely textured, with a minerally finish that offers saline and dried herbal hints. Drink now through 2024. —K.M."
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Score: 91 points " Pale to medium ruby, the 2016 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard has a bright nose of cranberry, wild blackberry, warm earth and cinnamon stick with nutmeg, autumn leaves, orange peel and red berries. Light to medium-bodied with elegant fruits, it has a soft frame of fine, grainy tannins and good freshness, finishing long. 300 cases produced." - Erin Brooks
Prince of Pinot
Score: 94 points "This bottling is part of the winery’s Santa Barbara Historic Vineyards Collection. Much of the fruit that Au Bon Climat sources is fruit that has been planted “exclusively” for the winery. 50% Block 2 and 50% Block 11. Main clones are 667 and 115. 50% whole clusters. Aged 18 months in Francois Frères French oak barrels, 80% new. Moderately light garnet color in the glass. Shy, but pleasing aromas of black cherry and tender oak. A very giving wine on the palate, with a gorgeous core of black cherry fruit in a mid weight style. Silky, with polished tannins, a slight savory, dried leaf character, and a seductive grip of cherry on the finish. An impeccably balanced wine that is drinking perfectly now."