Au Bon Climat, Santa Maria Valley, Pinot Noir, 2006

Au Bon Climat, Santa Maria Valley, Pinot Noir, 2006

As far as wine is concerned, there is much more to California than just Napa Valley or Sonoma. In fact, one of the Californian wineries that so far has impressed me most is located a little bit further south, in Santa Maria Valley: Jim Clendenen's Au Bon Climat. On election day in the UK, when a risotto was slowly cooking in the kitchen, it was time to open a Californian Pinot Noir to support us through the long night.

A wonderful nose of cherries, chocolate/cocoa, pepper, bread, woodlands and herbs with just the right dosage of toastiness; cool, earthy and leathery, but still fresh. On the tongue the Pinot is smooth, lots of berries and cherries mix with bread, mild ground pepper and spice, plus leather and tobacco aromas. The oak was already well integrated when I had previously opened a bottle of this in October 2008 (to which Caroline remarked it had 'more of an earthy oakiness than an oaky oakiness', which is still very true); now it provides the right contrast to the still surprisingly fresh acidity that gives the wine a very lively character - and a long finish.

I did already like this a lot in 2008 (when despite the 13.5% we downed a whole bottle over lunch), but now it got even better. It combines energy with substance and fresh elegance, which is never a bad thing in a wine. Even more noticeable is the, for a Californian wine from a top estate, relatively moderate price (it may be more pricey now, seeing as I bought it in 2008).


Submitted by Julian Wednesday, 19/05/2010

"I'd like to rest my heavy head tonight on a bed of California stars..." ...and try an Au Bon Climat Pinot some time.

Submitted by torsten Wednesday, 19/05/2010

In reply to by Julian

This is a fucking marvellous song, one of my favourites from the Bragg/Wilco album! And yes, we should share one of those sometime soon (says Torsten, who is right now drinking a dry Nahe Riesling and listening to the song at close to maximum volume, to drown out the cool hoddies who play football to rap music at the children's playground)!

Submitted by TheWinesleuth Saturday, 22/05/2010

I'm happy to hear you were able to enjoy that CA pinot. I have had some great ones lately from Sonoma and glad that you are enjoying these from Santa Maria Valley. Not all CA wines are huge fruit bombs!

Submitted by torsten Saturday, 22/05/2010

In reply to by TheWinesleuth

My California wine experience has so far been very good - but then I only had a select few wines from better wineries, so you would hope for something decent. I will certainly continue to occasionally venture into CA - grateful for recommendations.