Au Bon Climat Knox Alexander Pinot Noir 2015
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.
Santa Maria Valley lies mainly in northern Santa Barbara County, with a small portion of it overlapping southern San Luis Obispo County. It is close to the Pacific, and runs east-west, which means warmer air in the eastern end draws cool air off the ocean in the west, and brings it through the valley. This effect, combined with abundant sunshine, lengthens the growing season. The longer growing season leads to long hang time, which promotes both ripeness and optimal acidity levels in grape berries. As early as the 1970’s, Santa Maria Valley was recognized as being a superior source of wine grapes, certainly including Chardonnay and Syrah. But arguably the top variety here is Pinot Noir.
Originally a domain primarily of growers, including the Miller Family of the justifiably famous Bien Nacido Vineyard, this AVA is now home to over 30 wineries. Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir consistently offers full flavors of cherry, strawberry and raspberry, often accompanied by notes of spice, cola, vanilla and earth. They show impressive balance and elegance, as well as great versatility with food.