Au Bon Climat Rincon Talley Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011
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.
One of the coolest growing areas in California, the Arroyo Grande Valley runs from the southwest to the northeast, just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean and is part of the Central Coast AVA. Situated so that cold Pacific Ocean air and fog is allowed to filter into the valley, Arroyo Grande also has an incredibly long growing season. Bud break occurs in February in most years with flowering in May and harvest in late September; the area is classified as cool Mediterranean.
These weather factors combined with the soil types—continental and marine rocks, greywacke, limestone, shale and volcanic—create wines with great concentration and fresh acidity. The cooler end of the valley is perfect for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and is a good producer of sparkling wines. The warmer, more inland part of the valley is home to some of California’s oldest Zinfandel vines.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”