Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir “Knox Alexander”
WHY WE LOVE IT
- Named after Jim Clendenen’s son, Knox, this wine is sourced from the finest lots of Pinot Noir from the estate vineyards, Le Bon Climat and Bien Nacido Vineyard.
- These two vineyards, separated only by the Sisquoc River, have slow growing vines planted in well drained poor soils, which produce really distinctive Pinot Noir.
- Both vineyards struggle to yield much most years, but the small amount that is harvested is of amazing quality.
- “Knox” is a blend of two “estate” vineyards, Bien Nacido (planted in 1997) and Le Bon Climat (planted in 1998). Both vineyards are in the Santa Maria Valley, with Le Bon Climat being located on the southern edge of this appellation.
Varietal Composition: 100% Pinot Noir
Elaboration: Traditional vinification. Fermentation occurs in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. Aged for 22 months in French oak barrels before being bottled. This wine is fined with three egg whites per barrel to remove some of the tougher tannins.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of Bing cherry, ripe apple and dark chocolate are apparent with an intriguing scent of underbrush buried deeper in the wine. Flavors constantly evolve starting with raspberries and moving to dark cocoa.
2014 – 90 Wine Advocate | 94 Vinous
2015 – 91 Wine Advocate | 92 Wine Spectator | 93 Vinous
2016 – 91 Wine Advocate | 92+ Jeb Dunnuck | 96 Vinous
2017 – 91 Vinous | 94+ Jeb Dunnuck
2018 – 92 Jeb Dunnuck
2019 – 92 Jeb Dunnuck
Beginning with the 1978 harvest, Jim Clendenen was assistant winemaker at Zaca Mesa Winery for three vintages, a valued training experience. In 1981 his vision broadened with three harvests in one year as Jim worked crush and directed the harvest at wineries in Australia and France. Three harvests in one year confirmed his masochistic tendencies.In 1982, Clendenen decided, along with Adam Tolmach, to start a winery dedicated to Burgundian varietals. Adam left in 1990 to pursue his own efforts leaving Jim solo at the helm.
Au Bon Climat (which means “a well exposed vineyard”) sources fruit from several of the most highly regarded vineyards in the Central Coast. These include Clendenen’s own Le Bon Climat Vineyard and estate plantings at the legendary Bien Nacido Vineyard – both in Santa Maria Valley, Sanford & Benedict Vineyard in Sta. Rita Hills, Los Alamos Vineyard (Santa Barbara County), and San Luis Obispo County’s Talley Vineyard.The winery has cultivated an international reputation for its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. Jim Clendenen, the “Mind Behind” Au Bon Climat, is recognized worldwide for his classically styled wines.