2017 Pinot Noir "Isabelle"
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 Older equipment has been replaced by newer technologies, but better equipment improved the wines and allowed for gentler processing.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.
Wine Enthusiast Magazine
Score: 96 "There's an array of herbal intrigue on the nose of this bottling, from oregano to thyme to singed sage, as well as aromas of pepper, baked pomegranate and salted plum skin. The herbs and white pepper make an encore on the sip, starring alongside the za'atar, toasted pumpkin seed and baked plum flavors." MATT KETTMANN
Wine and Spirits Magazine
Score: 92 "This is Jim Clendenen’s most wide-ranging blend, combining fruit from at least six different appellations, as far away as the Anderson Valley. This wine feels muted at first, with a scent of mulled berries and fruit blossoms, a whiff of tobacco and earth. With air the wine’s fruit fills in the center, delivering a luminous raspberry sweetness that grows in lift and expression over the course of several days. That development bodes well for the wine’s cellar life." —P.J.C. (1,125 cases)