Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Sanford & Benedict Vineyard

Au Bon Climat 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.
  • Sanford & Benedict is primarily planted with Pinot Noir (68 acres) and Chardonnay (52 acres).
  • As the “new” winemaking crowd discovered and consequently worshiped this vineyard, demand for Sanford and Benedict grapes has skyrocketed.
  • Au Bon Climat still buys some Pinot Noir from the original plantings of this vineyard as they have for the last 31 years.

Varietal Composition: 100% Pinot Noir

Elaboration: After careful handpicking 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.

Tasting Notes: A fruit-driven style, offering lots of framboise and cherries as well as spring flowers and sappy herb-like aromas and flavors. These all carry over to the palate with a beautifully balanced, elegant mouthfeel, and a great finish.

2017 – 95 Wine Advocate | 94 Wine & Spirit | 92 Wine Enthusiast

2019 – 92+ Jeb Dunnuck

2020 – 90 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.

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