Au Bon Climat Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 2020 is no longer available

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Au Bon Climat Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir 2020

Red Wine from USA - California
4.000000000 star rating 1 Reviews
Wonderful purity and drive on this red berry-focused pinot from the ocean fog-cooled vineyards of Santa Maria Valley. These are some of the coolest vineyard sites in the whole of California giving the pinot noir grape a more restrained elegance akin to great Burgundy whose wines, owner Jim Clenenden admires so much.
is no longer available
Code: US11441

Wine characteristics

  • Red Wine
  • Medium-bodied
  • Pinot Noir
  • 75cl
  • Now to 2028
  • 13.5% Alcohol
  • oak used but not v. noticeable
  • Cork, natural

Au Bon Climat

Au Bon Climat has become a trendsetter of Californian wines, producing distinctive, cooler-climate wines long before it became fashionable to do so in recent years.

Bursting into life back in 1982, Au Bon Climat means ‘a well-exposed vineyard.’ Until his all too early death in May 2021 it was headed by the inimitable, eccentric wine maverick Jim Clendenen, who had been worked in the industry since 1978. His bright, forward-thinking and larger-than-life character (along with his several Winemaker of the Year accolades from various sources over the years) have gone down in winemaking history.

30 years ago, when many winemakers were flocking to the warm and sunny Napa and Sonoma Valleys to produce California wine, Jim was one of the few who recognised the potential of the cooler climate in the south of the region – namely Santa Maria Valley, which is where his Le Bon Climat and legendary Bien Nacido vineyards are situated. Nestling in a canyon 20 miles from the sea, they are among the coolest sites in California, giving the wines an elegant, restrained, lighter-alcohol style akin to that of Burgundy’s classics, but with more ripeness.

Although of sublime quality, Au Bon Climat wines were certainly underrated at first: it was generally regarded that Californian producers needed a high score from the mighty Robert Parker before they were considered one of the greats, and as Au Bon Climat didn’t conform to the generally expected style of big, powerful reds they simply didn’t make...
Au Bon Climat has become a trendsetter of Californian wines, producing distinctive, cooler-climate wines long before it became fashionable to do so in recent years.

Bursting into life back in 1982, Au Bon Climat means ‘a well-exposed vineyard.’ Until his all too early death in May 2021 it was headed by the inimitable, eccentric wine maverick Jim Clendenen, who had been worked in the industry since 1978. His bright, forward-thinking and larger-than-life character (along with his several Winemaker of the Year accolades from various sources over the years) have gone down in winemaking history.

30 years ago, when many winemakers were flocking to the warm and sunny Napa and Sonoma Valleys to produce California wine, Jim was one of the few who recognised the potential of the cooler climate in the south of the region – namely Santa Maria Valley, which is where his Le Bon Climat and legendary Bien Nacido vineyards are situated. Nestling in a canyon 20 miles from the sea, they are among the coolest sites in California, giving the wines an elegant, restrained, lighter-alcohol style akin to that of Burgundy’s classics, but with more ripeness.

Although of sublime quality, Au Bon Climat wines were certainly underrated at first: it was generally regarded that Californian producers needed a high score from the mighty Robert Parker before they were considered one of the greats, and as Au Bon Climat didn’t conform to the generally expected style of big, powerful reds they simply didn’t make the grades. It is a mark of Jim’s tenacity that – regardless of the critics – he stuck to his guns and continued producing wines true to his own ideals, and it certainly paid off: like many new world countries, the US now has a healthy appetite for cooler-climate wines.

The popular Californian wine film Sideways (released in 2004) is believed to have had an impact on this trend: in it, the vineyards in the cooler Santa Barbara County were portrayed as a sort of ‘holy grail’ of wine production. The valley corridor goes from east to west, as opposed to north and south, channeling the sea breezes and, in fact, inspiring the title ‘Sideways’. One vineyard that featured prominently was Sanford and Benedict vineyards in Santa Rita Hills - unsurprisingly, this is a vineyard with which Au Bon Climat have a long-standing relationship. It is now not just the vineyards that are ‘well exposed’– Au Bon Climat has earned a place among the greatest and most sought-after wines in the new world.
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