2017 Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict Vineyard
Planted in 1971, the fruit we use is selected from the oldest section of Sanford & Benedict Vineyard located in the very cool Sta. Rita Hills appellation. It is truly one of the great Pinot vineyards of America.
After careful hand picking in the early morning hours, the grapes arrived at the winery nice and cold. Cold grapes give time for a cold soak and a slower fermentation. During the cold, extended soak, the fruit driven aromas and flavors were extracted from the grapes. The slower fermentation also assisted in the gradual extraction of additional aromas and flavors as the alcohol content slowly rises. 50% of the fruit was whole cluster fermented to further increase intensity and spice.
After the grapes reached dryness, the grapes were pressed, and the wine was put in new french oak Francois Frères barrels. The wine was gently racked in the late spring and was returned to barrel for a total of 22 months. No fining or filtration was necessary.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Score: 95+ "The 2017 Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict Vineyard is a singular, gorgeous wine, made from the second set of vines planted on the site, with about 50% whole cluster. "The really old vines are planted east-west, so I don't like those," says Jim Clendenen. "We don't use much whole cluster anymore, but that's what gives this its spice." Pale to medium ruby, it has a nose of perfumed red and black cherries, star anise and tree bark, feeling a touch youthfully reticent. The palate is silky and expansive with nuanced, spice-laced flavor layers energized by lip-smacking acidity, and it finishes very long and nuanced. Only 90 cases were made."
Wine and Spirits Magazine
Score: 94 "Au Bon Climat’s Sanford & Benedict bottling is the yardstick against which all other bottlings from the vineyard must be measured. Right from the first inhale the provenance is there, the scent of the sea, the cool, lovely tension between cranberry-strawberry-red fruits and a deeper black-cherry core. The flavors go bright and dark as well, with the grainy forthrightness in the texture betraying a sneaky depth and grip in the tannins. Lovely now, this will only grow more profound with some cellar time." —P.J.C. (240 cases)
Antonio Galloni's Vinous
Score: 90 "The 2017 Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict Vineyard needs a bit of air for the fruit and inner sweetness to emerge. Sweet dried cherry, crushed flowers, spice and licorice are nicely lifted. In tasting, the 2017 feels a bit light and fragile. For that reason, I would prefer to drink it over the next handful of years."