Au Bon Climat Isabelle Pinot Noir 2016
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Sourced from a half-dozen sites throughout California, the latest “Isabelle” bottling is, as always, comprised from what Au Bon Climat considers its very best cuvées and, in 2016, is a remarkably deep Pinot Noir that counts careful composition and balance first among its many virtues. It is weighty and racy and surprisingly light on its feet all at once with layered, extraordinarily long flavors of optimally ripened cherries and sweet oak, laced with hints of minerally soil, and, even though it is so wonderfully well-tailored that it invites drinking now, it is an eminently ageworthy rendition that is destined to repay upwards of another decade of cellaring with compounding dividends.
In 1982, Jim Clendenen decided, along with Adam Tolmach, to start a winery dedicated to Burgundian varietals in leased quarters. Adam left in 1990 to pursue his own efforts leaving Jim solo at the helm. Through careful re-investment from its own production, Au Bon Climat (which means "a well exposed vineyard") has grown to over 50,000 cases annually.
Au Bon Climat 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, along with 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. In addition to his Burgundian-focused Au Bon Climat wines, Jim also established another brand, Clendenen Family Vineyards. This project of passion allows him to make artisan, small lots of distinctive wines from a wider spectrum of varieties in styles conducive to small lots. He has received high acclaim for Italian varietals particularly his Nebbiolo that has a five year aging regimen in barrel.
Internationally recognized for gorgeous, pure fruit combined with great elegance, California Pinot noir thrives among the state’s cooler, coastal zones. Characterized by eclectic flavors and aromas of strawberry, black cherry, plum and potpourri with notes of forest floor, mushroom or black tea, the best California Pinot noir boast a supple texture and good acidity, giving them the ability to improve with age.
Credited with the beginning of Pinot noir’s glory in California, two growers, Joe Rochioli and Joseph Swan in the late 1960s independently planted Pinot noir vineyards in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. Today Sonoma County remains the leading producer of Pinot noir in the state, and Pinot noir is the leading red grape in the county, achieving its highest potential, in the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast.